“I want to say to our legislature and our governor, we will be excellent stewards,” incoming OU president Jim Gallogly said nearly three months ago. “We will not have waste on campus.”
It appears he wasn’t kidding.
“Presiding over his first meeting of the OU Board of Regents this week, Gallogly sent a clear message that he is serious about imposing fiscal discipline, prioritizing spending, slowing the debt-fueled building spree, and protecting students from tuition hikes,” OCPA president Jonathan Small wrote in The Journal Record (“Refreshing leadership”).
“Our inefficiencies on the Norman campus and our overspending on the Norman campus should not fall on the shoulders of our students," The Oklahoman’s Kathryn McNutt, covering the regents meeting, quoted Gallogly as saying (“University of Oklahoma facing $1 billion debt, inadequate operating cash”).
The OU Daily covered the meeting too. “I consider myself a financial expert, and it’s taken me days and weeks and months to sort it all,” editor-in-chief Nick Hazelrigg quoted Gallogly as saying. “But I do feel that we have a very good grasp of where we’re at today, and frankly, I’m not pleased with what I found. In the last five years, our operating revenues are up 18.8 percent. Unfortunately, our operating expenses are up more: 23.3 percent” (“’We will get our house in order,’ James Gallogly calls for renewed financial responsibility, flat tuition rate in first regents meeting”).
“Gallogly said that he will begin working July 1 to improve OU's budget and seek more efficient spending methods,” OU Daily news managing editor Jana Allen reported (“OU President-designate James Gallogly calls for greater fiscal responsibility in first Board of Regents meeting”).
The Tulsa World’s Samuel Hardiman shed some additional light in a story today (“Incoming OU president: Layoffs possible, but raising tuition not answer to fixing $15 million budget hole”).
Amid a $15 million operating loss for the coming fiscal year, incoming University of Oklahoma president Jim Gallogly said layoffs are a possibility at the university. He said non-faculty staff could be an area the university could look to become more efficient when he works to remedy the fiscal hole he inherits when he assumes the job on July 1. … “We have to pay attention to our costs and a lot of our costs are related to payroll,” he said. “We will get efficient. This is mostly staff-related. Faculty are the ones who teach the classes and bring the revenue in. I think that’s an important point. I’m talking about raises for faculty.”
OCPA, of course, has repeatedly drawn attention to the excessive non-faculty payroll in Oklahoma’s higher education system. Using Census and BEA data, OCPA economists Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik wrote in February 2017:
Oklahoma’s higher education system employs 2.5 non-instructional workers per 100 private sector workers, which is a whopping 70 percent higher than the national average and the 5th highest level in the country for 2015 (the latest data available). To get to the national average, Oklahoma’s higher education system would have to shed 13,680 non-instructional workers—to 19,489 workers from the current level of 33,169 workers. This would result in total annual savings, on average, of $374,835,665 in wages and salaries—in addition to the millions of dollars in supplemental benefits that would be saved.
Is OU a part of the problem? The Census and BEA data don’t tell us. But there’s little doubt that President Gallogly will find out. As the editorial board of The Oklahoman put it today, Gallogly is “well suited to address OU’s financial challenge.”