NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma eliminated around 50 staff positions today in cost-cutting measures announced by President James Gallogly.
A university press release said a reduction in force (RIF) measure "primarily related to the Norman campus" had taken place. Gallogly announced in an email to faculty and staff Thursday that the terminations are necessary as the university balances its budget, and he referred to them as the "first phase" of the plan.
“Moving toward a balanced budget is essential if we are to control tuition costs for our students, afford employee raises to ensure competitive salaries and be prudent stewards of taxpayer and donor funds,” Gallogly said. “Tuition and fees increased almost 25 percent over the past five years, which is not sustainable. We must continue to grow a world-class institution focused on our students and their success.”
The details of which departments or programs had positions cut has not yet been provided. Gallogly said in the email that he does not anticipate any further cuts within the calendar year, "but will continue our work group by group to assess where additional savings and efficiencies can be achieved going forward."
Gallogly has vowed to correct OU's financial issues since he first took office over the summer, and that includes fixing a budget deficit Gallogly said has drawn down OU's reserves. He also had issues with the amount of debt at OU, totaling about $1 billion, though much of that is in building bond debt that is steadily being repaid.
In the email, Gallogly stated administration has already identified $20 million of savings for the next year, mostly by cutting third-party services and purchases.
In speaking about the need to cut costs in the past, Gallogly said that could include eliminating some staff positions. This has led to some uncertainty on campus about specific programs, such as a rally in support of the university's TRiO services which Gallogly said were not going away despite rumors to the contrary.
On the flip side, Gallogly wants to see OU expand its role in other areas, such as a raise for faculty and an increase in research efforts.
“We have a bold vision to double research, expand in the Tulsa region and make OU Medicine the healthcare provider of choice in the state," Gallogly said. "These actions require that we be efficient and take these difficult but necessary steps.”
In contrast to former OU President David Boren, who frequently railed against repeated state funding cuts to higher education, Gallogly has put his focus on reducing university spending through cost-cutting measures.