The budget to be considered by the Northern Wyoming Community College Trustees during a special meeting July 1 includes a net decrease of approximately $3.96 million. The financial emergency declared by the Trustees on June 18 is due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as imminent cuts to ongoing funding from the State of Wyoming.
Approximately $2.8 million of the cuts will come from the discontinuance of all Sheridan College and Gillette College NJCAA Division I teams.
“This decision was far from easy and definitely not something we wanted to take away from our student-athletes. However, we simply cannot maintain a vision that includes full-time coaches, full-ride athletic scholarships coming from our general fund, and expensive recruitment and travel,” said NWCCD President Dr. Walter Tribley.
According to Tribley, the long-term goal is to eventually bring back additional athletic opportunities with Division III teams in the future. Rodeo teams at both Gillette and Sheridan Colleges will continue, with significantly reduced budgets. In addition to athletics, District administration, two academic programs and campus police are also affected.
The cuts to administration and academic programs total $500,000. Two academic programs – Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management – will be discontinued. In addition, the District is not filling several open administrative and staff positions and implementing reorganizations that equal savings of seven full-time positions.
The Campus Police Department will transition to a more traditional format consistent with other community colleges in Wyoming, resulting in a $260,000 cut. It had already been reduced by $130,000. Limiting travel to essential only, which was implemented last spring at the start of the pandemic, will continue and result in $400,000 in savings. Student travel will be supported, where feasible, by student fees.
“The changes we will be making as a District that yield the greatest ongoing savings were selected not because they were failing in any way,” Tribley said. “They were selected because the annual cost of the programs versus the annual revenue generated by those programs make them unsustainable during this time of financial crisis.”
Other cost-saving measures will be instituted, such as reducing utility consumption, trimming variable operating budgets and other efficiency-related actions.
The total number of eliminated positions is 16, in addition to the seven already unfilled positions.
In cases where the budget cuts impact students, NWCCD is committed to making special arrangements. All scholarships will be honored and students enrolled in discontinued academic programs will have the opportunity to complete required degree requirements. All athletes will be released from their commitments to NWCCD.
“Our number one priority is our students. While these decisions will impact some students directly, it is the best way forward for our District to minimize negative impacts to the majority of our students,” said Tribley. “We look forward to continuing to provide an affordable, transferable high-quality education for all.”