New Eastern Kentucky University president announces budget cuts

RICHMOND — On the day before First Lady Michelle Obama came to Eastern Kentucky University to celebrate its work with veterans, incoming President Michael Benson announced the first in a series of cuts for Eastern's beleaguered budget.

Retiring President Doug Whitlock had announced that Eastern would have to cut $23 million from its budget — about 10 percent of the total budget — to become more financially stable. The Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force has been working on the issues for the past few months.

Benson said he asked for a summary of the proposals, which will be approved or disapproved by the EKU Board of Regents at their June meetings.

Student scholarships, work study and the Office of Admissions will not be affected.

The proposals include the following changes and reorganizations:

■ Eliminate the dean and associate dean of Continuing Education and Outreach and review regional campus programming, including closing the center at Fort Knox.

■ Merge Administrative Affairs with Financial Affairs and eliminate the position of vice president for administration.

■ Eliminate the position of director of the Office of Policy, Compliance and Governance.

■ Continue to review with Benson the economics of academic programs, faculty workload and policies related to faculty.

■ Increase tuition for Model Laboratory School and the Burrier Child Development Center.

■ Add an auto registration fee for faculty, and increase the fee for students.

Benson said new money from the reallocations will be directed to faculty and staff salaries, and he said he wants to continue to study academic offerings to see which can be improved and which the school cannot afford.

In his statement, Benson quoted English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American philosopher Nicholas Murray Butler and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl about the importance of keeping a positive attitude during difficult times.

"While difficult times will invariably persist, to be sure, the one thing I can control on a daily basis is my attitude," Benson wrote. "As I assume my responsibilities at Eastern as your next president, I will refuse to be dour and long-faced. Rather, I will be relentlessly optimistic and positive and will encourage all of us at EKU to do the same."