EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – University of Central Oklahoma administrators say they plan to address the school’s $15 million deficit for the 2023 fiscal year without eliminating full-time faculty positions.

A budget planning process that lasted months did include consideration of possibly eliminating vacant and filled faculty positions to address the deficit and increase a historically low student-to-faculty ratio caused by enrollment declines, university officials said.

“We knew going into the planning process there would be tough decisions to be made as we worked to address the university’s budget deficit, particularly related to faculty positions at the university,” said UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar. “Academic Affairs leadership, the college deans and the President’s Cabinet have worked diligently to minimize the loss of jobs while working to erase this deficit. My deepest gratitude is extended to these leaders who courageously led through this process. Thanks to our collaborative efforts, no filled faculty positions will be eliminated from the budget for the 2023 fiscal year.”

UCO students marched across campus in April to protest the proposed faculty cuts to help address the budget shortfall.

Administrators have chosen to not eliminate full-time, on-staff faculty. They will eliminate 30 vacant faculty positions, change its budgeting practices for carryover funds and request a tuition increase of three percent or $6.82 per credit hour.

That translates to an increase of just over $81 per semester for a student taking a course load of 12 hours, UCO officials said.

Neuhold-Ravikumar said challenges will continue for the university in the coming fiscal year, but also said the decisions are positive steps in safeguarding the university for future students.

“This place and our vision are built on the hope that can withstand even the toughest conditions. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate a spirit of unity and collaboration within our campus to create an atmosphere that invites others in. Our commitment to each other and our mission gives our students and our community a reason to join us and a dream to share,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will determine the university’s final appropriations amount. Information on that amount is expected near the end of the legislative session on May 27 after the overall state budget is approved.