I think there are misconceptions about the University's cost savings plan which has been adopted by the Board of Regents in light of the $1 billion shortfall in the State budget.
President Boren gave direction to make cuts in a way least damaging to the strength of the University. There is absolutely no plan to cut courses that students need for graduation. Faculty and Staff slots that become vacant will be refilled when necessary to meet emergency needs or to make sure mandatory courses are available to students. Even if a position must be refilled, savings can be achieved by replacing very senior retirees at their highest earnings levels with new hires who have lower starting salaries. In addition, to meet the needs of students, some faculty and staff can voluntarily increase their teaching loads or teach extra courses for extra pay.
President Boren directed us to cut as much as possible so that any increases in tuition and fees to students will be kept as low as possible.
The budget plan attempts to make cuts in a way most fair to our hard working and devoted faculty and staff. Other ways to make cuts like forced reductions in employment (RIFs, Furloughs) and other solutions are much more difficult and have a much greater impact on faculty and staff. A voluntary program for those who qualify for retirement and a reduction in faculty and staff through attrition is a much more sensitive and humane way to deal with the budget challenge we face.
Finally, much of the budget savings will come from reductions in purchases, travel and other efficiencies university-wide. There is no way to avoid all of the pain when cuts like these become necessary but the University is seeking to make the cuts in the most intelligent and sensitive way possible.
Hathaway is OU's executive vice president and vice president for administration and finance.