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UK College of Arts and Sciences to cut 30 staff positions


UK’s College of Arts and Sciences will lay off at least 30 staffers in the next few weeks to solve a $4 million deficit in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The shortage has nothing to do with upcoming state budget cuts, official said. Instead, it happened when contracts from foreign governments — including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Brazil and Ecuador — to teach their students English as a second language dried up unexpectedly.

Lisa Wilson, associate provost for finance and operations, said that unlike most federal grants, the contract money was not guaranteed for any amount of time. Nevertheless, Dean Mark Kornbluh used the money as a recurring revenue stream for hiring and other uses in the college.

Kornbluh is on vacation and unavailable for comment. He has been dean since 2009 and makes $338, 000 a year.

“The dean has owned what’s happened, ” Wilson said.

The college won’t be able to save $4 million by the end of June, so it must pay back the $4 million to UK’s central administration, Wilson said. No faculty will be affected by layoffs, but the staffers affected could include lecturers. UK officials are sending a letter today to college employees explaining the cuts. Affected employees will be notified later in the month.

Discretionary spending, such as for travel and conferences, will also be cut.

Wilson said the contracts grew over the past few years. Foreign governments would send students to the college’s Center for English as a Second Language. Sometimes, students whose English improved enough would start classes at UK.

“It was a revenue stream that was supposed to be very stable, ” Wilson said. “They grew staff and lecturers to support that function.”

Since 2013, UK averaged between 250 and 380 students a year, officials said. Students took courses on a quarterly basis, and sometimes stayed for multiple quarters. Spokesman Jay Blanton said that because each contract was structured differently, average prices could not be determined.

The center itself will have to shrink, but the cuts will affect other employees in finance and information technology, Wilson said.

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