Thursday, June 7, 2012
UK layoffs mostly administrative, part of strategy to protect impact on teaching
Recent layoffs at the University of Kentucky are primarily staff and faculty positions, with 140 full and part-time employees laid off, as well as the elimination of about 160 faculty and staff positions that are currently vacant.
“The university, as much as possible, is striving to protect any impact on teaching. It is a chief priority of the institution. That’s why cuts are deeper at the administrative level. That was an intentional strategy on the part of President Eli Capilouto to protect, to the greatest extent possible, teaching students,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton told KyForward.
Information Technology was one of the most impacted departments, where 11 employees have been laid off out of 240. Additionally, five Human Resource employees out of 110 were laid off.
Capilouto emphasized that he expects those laid off to be treated with compassion throughout the process, Blanton said.
“One thing that underscores that commitment is the three months of notice that all impacted employees are being given, which is probably an exception to the rule for the amount of notice given at many institutions, whether in the public or private sector,” Blanton added.
Though these personnel reductions will reduce the General Fund payroll by approximately $15 million, in order to decrease UK’s current $43 million budget deficit, there are still be cuts to be made, Blanton said.
“The reductions in workforce will result in several million dollars in savings to help offset the budget challenges confronting the university. But it, by no means, closes that gap. In addition to actions being taken now – along with plans relative to tuition and enrollment — departments and units will still have to find several million dollars in savings and efficiencies,” Blanton said.
Since 2007, UK’s state appropriations have been cut about $50 million, and the university continues to see increases in costs, like utilities. The layoffs were made as part of preparations for significant reductions in the next budget, which is to be ready by July 1, Blanton said.
Blanton mentioned that UK and Kentucky schools are not alone in making cuts and increasing tuition.
“At least 43 states have implemented cuts to public colleges and universities and/or made large increases in college tuition to make up for insufficient state funding.
“One prominent example is California,” he added. “As a result of the reductions in state spending on higher education, all sectors of California higher education have seen larger class sizes, reduced course offerings and fewer summer courses.”
Additionally, UK is not immune from economic troubles that have impacted local, state and even the global economy, Blanton said.
“State agencies have, in many cases, cut budgets by more than 20 percent over the last few years and we’ve all seen the headlines regarding the country’s unemployment rates and continued challenges in the private sector to create and retain jobs” he said.