Dickinson State University is looking at all options to help balance its budget.
The university’s total funding for the 2019-2021 biennium is being reduced 16 percent from the previous biennium.
It is a reduction of $3.8 million.
“We were to receive a 40 percent reduction for the 2017-2019 biennium. The legislature gave us one-time funding to reduce that down to 24 percent, but we knew the rest of that deficit would come in the 2019-2021 biennium,“ said Thomas Mitzel, DSU president.
To be financially stable, DSU is exploring using up to $3 million of its $4.9 million reserve fund and cutting the budget by $2.5 million over the next biennium.
Part of the cuts includes offering early retirement and severance options to DSU employees.
Last week, it was announced that the school is offering two limited-time, voluntary programs to employees.
One is Leave Without Pay-Workload Reduction program and the other is Voluntary Separation Incentive program.
For the Leave Without Pay-Workload Reduction program, approved applicants will receive a reduced annual contract of either 11 months and four weeks off without pay or 10 months and eight weeks off without pay.
For the Voluntary Separation Incentive program an example used was an employee with an annual base salary of $40,000 with eight years and four months of service, will receive an incentive payment of a little more than $12,000.
Mitzel said a task force is being put together to address the school’s budget issues, and he doesn’t anticipate any layoffs at this time.
He is also not aware at this time if any employees have shown interest in the two programs.
Possible downsizing of Dickinson State University faculty and staff may be in the works, according to an email KX News received.
On May 22, 2019, the school’s director of human resources Krissy Kilwein sent an email to faculty and staff with the subject line: Limited-time Offering of Cost Saving Programs
DSU school president Dr. Thomas Mitzel and other administrators were CC’d on the email.
On Friday, May 24, 2019, the email was forwarded to KX News from an anonymous source at the school.
According to the email, the school is offering two limited-time, voluntary programs for benefited employees for the purpose of, “minimizing the scope and/or number of involuntary terminations in the context of the long-term fulfillment of the University’s mission”.
One of the programs is a Leave Without Pay/Workload Reduction program.
Under the program approved applicants will receive a reduced annual contract for the next biennium(2019-2020 and 2020-2021) of either 11 months and four weeks off without pay or 10 months and eight weeks off without pay.
The other one is a Voluntary Separation Incentive program.
In this program approved applicants will receive, “a payment equal to two weeks of salary based on the individual’s annual base salary per completed year of service to the NDUS, up to a maximum of 100 percent of annual base salary”.
In the email an example used was an employee with eight years and four months of service, with an annual base salary of $40,000 will receive an incentive payment of $12,307.68.
The formula for the program will be: Two-Weeks of Salary X Complete Years of Service = Incentive Payment
Under the VSIP program, approved applicants can receive one lump sum payment or two equal payments, and their DSU health insurance benefits would terminate at the end of the month following their month of separation.
For the VSIP program, it also reads, “Employees are not guaranteed participation in the plan, and the decision to approve an applicant is entirely at the discretion of DSU“.
In the email faculty and staff are also notified that, “similar offers will not be made again unless it is deemed necessary as a cost-saving tool for the institution”.
The final deadline for submitting applications for both program is June 6, 2019, and the separation date for approved applicants of the VSIP program is no later than June 30, 2019.
It has also been recently reported that DSU is facing a 16 percent reduction in total funding for the 2019-21 biennium.
KX News reached out to DSU for comment, Michelle Wilson, the school’s assistant director of university relations, said she has reached out to Dr. Mitzel, and they will try to get back with KX News by Tuesday.