On the Chopping Block

From the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Labor & Work Life Issues” section

posted June 25, 2010, 03:21 PM ET

• Employee Unions File Complaints Over Pay Freeze at Rutgers U. (read original)

Employee unions at Rutgers University have banded together to file charges against the public institution for its decision to freeze employee pay to save money. The charges, filed with the New Jersey Public Employees Relations Commission, stem from the university’s announcement this month that it would not give employees scheduled pay raises. Faculty members were scheduled to get a 2.75-percent raise on July 1. A hearing before the commission on the issue is slated for July 7.

June 19, 2010, 09:45 AM ET

• Arkansas Official Suspends Pay Raises at State’s Public Colleges (Read Original)

Faculty members and other nonclassified employees at public colleges across Arkansas will not receive pay raises they were expecting to get during the 2011 fiscal year after the director of the state’s Department of Finance and Administration announced on Thursday that such raises would be suspended for state agencies, including colleges and universities. The state official, Richard Weiss, invoked a provision of Arkansas law that allows him to take such action based on revenue forecasts for the fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The situation was described in a news release issued by Arkansas State University at Jonesboro and in an article published in the Log Cabin Democrat.

posted December 4, 2009 

• ‘Significant Downsizing’ Is Likely for Iowa State U., Its President Warns (read original)

Iowa State University must immediately begin planning a “strategic multiyear” restructuring that will probably involve eliminating some departments and programs, its president, Gregory Geoffroy, wrote in a letter to the campus this week. The university has lost nearly a quarter of its state appropriations in the last 16 months and cannot rule out further cuts, he said. Measures like temporary layoffs and furloughs will not be enough to cope, he said. Faculty leaders quoted by The Tribune, a newspaper in Ames, Iowa, raised concerns about the possibility of terminating tenure-track professors, saying the faculty handbook had little to say about that scenario.

posted September 3, 2009

• Union Members at U. of California Vote No Confidence in System President 

Unionized employees at the University of California overwhelmingly approved a resolution of no confidence today in Mark G. Yudof, the system’s president. The measure was approved by about 98 percent of the 10,000 voting employees, including clerks, nurses, graduate students, and others, a spokesman said. The vote was held to protest Mr. Yudof’s decision to use staff furloughs and tuition increases to respond to large cuts in state support.

• At the U. of Colorado at Boulder, Everyone’s a Custodian

The University of Colorado at Boulder plans to save $122,000 a year by having employees empty their own office trash cans. Some faculty members were irked when the plan was initially described as a “service enhancement,” Boulder’s Daily Camera reports.

posted August 2, 2009

• U. System of Maryland to Cut 175 Jobs, Including Some Faculty Positions (read original)

The University System of Maryland will cut 175 jobs and freeze hiring under a plan to trim $37.8-million from its budget for the 2010 academic year, the Baltimore Sun reported. Because the cuts include “a fair number of adjunct and part-time faculty” members, according to the system’s chancellor, William E. Kirwan, who submitted the plan, students may find fewer sections of some courses and fuller classes.

posted July 6, 2009

Furloughs and faculty pay cuts may be coming soon to the University of Hawaii, which is struggling to offset $155-million in budget cuts over the next two years, the Honolulu Advertiser reports. Meanwhile, leaders of the California State University system, which must slash its annual spending by $584-million, are also calling for furloughs and/or pay cuts, The Sacramento Bee reports.

• The Faculty Senate at Texas A&M University has voted no confidence in the system’s chancellor, Michael McKinney, the Houston Chronicle reports. Last Tuesday’s 55-9 vote came in the wake of former President Elsa Murano’s sudden resignation just over two weeks ago following public tensions with McKinney, the newspaper notes. Meanwhile, Texas A&M’s athletic department has scrapped 17 jobs through early retirements and layoffs, The Dallas Morning News reports.

• Prompted by the bad economy, Valparaiso University has frozen pay for the coming year and eliminated more than 50 positions — most through attrition — the Associated Press reports. Fewer than 10 workers were fired.

Winston-Salem State University plans to lay off 16 workers and slash 30 vacant positions, none of them faculty positions, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge is preparing for layoffs, thanks to expected budget cuts of $41- to $48-million next year, WAFB.com reports. Meanwhile, Florida A&M University is also bracing for an as-yet-to-be determined number of layoffs, The FAMUAN reports.

posted June 26, 2009:

• Harvard University announced this week that it is laying off 275 staff members and trimming the hours of another 40 workers, thanks to its tanking endowment, The Harvard Crimson reports. No faculty jobs will be cut. Meanwhile, many Harvard students and employees are wondering why the university is firing people when, despite its endowment losses, it’s still sitting on a big pile of money, the Boston Globe reports:

“The fact that this is happening at Harvard, who is still sitting on a chest of billions and remains the richest university in the world, shows it is pursuing this incredibly narrow path of naked self interest,’’ said Geoff Carens, a library assistant and union representative who [organized a rally this week] to protest the cuts. “They’re using this drop in the endowment as an excuse to justify really terrible cuts that will have a disastrous impact on the surrounding communities.’’

• Another Ivy League university — Princeton — will offer early-retirement incentives to workers 55 and over, who have at least 10 years of service at the university and whose age plus tenure equals 80 years or more, the Associated Press reports. The move is part of an effort to slash expenditures in the face of an expected 30-percent drop in the university’s endowment.

• Washington State University will kill three academic programs and eliminate 360 positions as it tries to slice its budget by $54-million over the next two years, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. Of those jobs due to be cut, about 167 are vacant, while another 116 are currently occupied, the newspaper notes. In addition, another 47 employees have opted to retire early and others will have their hours cut.

• The University of Nevada at Reno is slashing 279 positions in response to a 15-percent reduction in its state budget, the Associated Press reports.

posted June 15, 2009:

• The University of Minnesota is planning to cut a total of 1,240 faculty, administrative, and staff positions next year as part of an effort to plug a projected $95-million budget hole, Minnesota Public Radio reports. While many of the job cuts are expected to come from attrition and jobs left unfilled, UM President Robert Bruininks predicts that there will be at least 400 layoffs, MPR writes. The only good news: Student tuition will rise only $300 next year.

posted June 5, 2009:

• The University of Colorado at Boulder plans to shed 75 positions as part of an effort to carve $12.9 million from its budget, the Associated Press reports. The pewter lining is that layoffs will be limited — only three workers will be fired — thanks to a decision last fall to leave positions vacant. According to a report in the Daily Camera, 33 full-time faculty positions and 42 full-time staff positions will be eliminated, saving the university an estimated $6.5-million.

• Florida’s severe financial crisis may force the University of Central Florida to shut down five academic programs over the next two years, a move that would leave 45 faculty and six staff members out of work (not to mention its impact on students), the Orlando Sentinal reports. The programs the university is considering phasing out include cardiopulmonary sciences, engineering technology, management information systems, radiologic sciences and statistics, and actuarial sciences, the newspaper notes. UCF’s governing board will decide the matter next month.

• Meanwhile, rumors are circulating about coming staff layoffs at Harvard University, but a date has yet to be determined, The Harvard Crimson reports.

• The University of New Hampshire is sacking seven workers, leaving 27 faculty and staff positions vacant, and cutting the hours of 40 staff members in order to save $2.6-million, WMUR reports. The university also has a pay freeze in effect for nonunionized employees who take home more than $40,000 per year.

• The University of California at San Diego recently culled more than 800 jobs in response to the state’s severe financial woes and is bracing for additional cuts and layoffs, the Union-Tribune reports. UCSD’s associate vice chancellor for communications, Stacie Spector, told the San Diego daily that so far at least 172 workers have been laid off, while 222 positions have gone unfilled, and another 428 have been eliminated. Spector added that while additional layoffs are coming, no one yet knows how many. If last week is any indication, things aren’t looking good, the newspaper notes:

In a span of a few days last week, UCSD’s share of budget reductions proposed for University of California mushroomed to approximately $90 million from $30 million, Spector said. UCSD’s budget is $2.3 billion.