WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Despite cuts, UK president vows budget protects top priorities

While the state's flagship university prepares for layoffs and further budget cuts, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto is making the case that the university's commitment remains steadfast despite challenges ahead.

"Ultimately, this budget represents a step forward for UK. It acknowledges the still difficult and large economic challenges we all face," says Capilouto in a message to staff and students taped Friday.

In the message, Capilouto explains that the university's upcoming $2.6 billion budget includes $20 million in state cuts. He also adds that overall funding has been cut more than $50 million since 2007.

UK officials announced earlier this month that 140 people -- about one percent of the workforce -- would lose their jobs and another 164 positions wouldn't be filled.

Some employees have already received notice that they are being laid off.

Nearly a year ago, the university's board set two specific goals: enhance undergraduate education and revitalize campus buildings.

"With classrooms nearly 50 years old on average, we have -- by far -- the oldest campus in the state," says Capilouto. "We're setting aside $15 million over the next two years so that we can pay the mortgage -- or provide the cash needed -- to renovate and rebuild our campus core."

For students accustomed to annual tuition increases, Capilouto says the university will continue to seek lower costs by planning to hold tuition increases to three percent in 2013-2014. "(It's) a commitment that virtually no one else has made in all of higher education."

Acknowledging that the university has not kept pace with faculty pay, Capilouto says in the 2013-2014 academic year UK will create a merit raise pool of five percent.

"Students need the support of a great staff and they expect to interact with world-class, caring faculty," says the president. "Competitive pay is essential to keeping them here."

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