Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Baker University president explains staff cuts

Baker University President Pat Long announced 23 layoffs from the Baker University system. The layoffs were the result of a $1 million shortfall in the budget.

Baker University President Pat Long announced 23 layoffs from the Baker University system. The layoffs were the result of a $1 million shortfall in the budget.

February 10, 2009


Baker grapples with 23 layoffs

Baker University is feeling the pressure of the struggling economy. Enlarge video

— Cutting 23 positions from the Baker University system was the toughest job President Pat Long had to do in her two-plus years at the helm.

“You bet it was,” Long said at a press conference Tuesday announcing the layoffs. “Without a doubt.”

The layoffs were made Thursday and Friday. They were the result of a $1 million shortfall in the university’s budget, and should be the last of the job cuts, Long said.

“We hope that we are done with layoffs with where we are now,” Long said. “I’m sure we’re done with mass layoffs.”

She declined to say how many people were let go from the Baldwin City campus. Baker also has campuses in Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita.

“It was a fairly even distribution,” she said, adding that the specific numbers will be released later in the week.

Long said that the layoffs, which were a 5.2 percent reduction in the university’s faculty and staff of 439, did not involve any full-time faculty members. She also said it’s a reflection of the harsh economy.

“It’s impacting us, like everyone else,” Long said.

She pointed specifically to the reduction in students at Baker’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies in Overland Park after the recent layoffs of thousands of workers from Sprint.

“We had 103 students enrolled through Sprint,” Long said. “Those benefits go away. Not just Sprint, but other companies.”

She also said Baker’s endowment had gone down 27 percent because of losses in the stock market. That funds many scholarships to the university, but reductions there won’t be felt until next year. Fundraising efforts have also been hampered by the troubled economy, she said.

Last resort

Long said the layoffs were the last resort, and that efforts to stem spending, such as reductions in travel and other expenses, started in November when it became apparent the university would not meet its budget.

“We did everything to protect people,” she said. “We saw people as the last thing we wanted to impact.”

She did not know whether there had been layoffs at Baker before.

“You know, I don’t know with 150 years of history, I’d guess we have,” Long said. “I’ve heard stories, legends, of past layoffs.

“I don’t know of times nationally like we’re experiencing, so I don’t know if we’ve had layoffs in the past.”

The Rev. Ira DeSpain, campus minister since 1992 and a 1970 Baker graduate, said the reaction from faculty, staff and students was varied.

“The uncertainty, the deep resolve and commitment. I’ve heard about students wanting to have fundraisers to help,” he said.

“It’s a deep commitment to keeping the university running how it should,” he said. “There’s anger and frustration about the world economy. It’s been a long few months, especially for President Long and lots of people.”

‘Open and transparent’

In addition to Long’s press conference, she also made a presentation to faculty, staff and students at a university forum Tuesday afternoon. She also met with the student senate later in the evening.

“There were a lot of questions asked by students and staff,” Steve Rottinghaus, director of public relations, said of the forum. “They’re wondering about scholarships and how it will affect them.”

Long also said there will be discussions with the board of trustees at a Friday meeting. Topics will include possible salary cuts and tuition increases. She said any additional measures taken from that meeting will be communicated with everyone.

“We’re being open and transparent with the university,” she said. “I just want to answer questions.”

She said the layoffs represented $200,000 toward making up the $1 million shortfall. Susan Lindahl, chief communications and strategic planning officer, said that’s where the shortage is now, but could change.

“That’s if revenues continue where they’re at,” Lindahl said. “We want to be fair and say out loud that there’s a possibility of more.”


Shardwurm 9 years, 2 months ago

Curious who was laid off. Highly-paid administrators or janitors? If those salaries got to the $1 million point that's an average of about $44k each.

notajayhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

Not even close, shard - read the second-to-last paragraph. The 23 people made an average of $8695. Even less if the savings reflect benefits also. (On the other hand, the savings may just be what those employees would have made between now and the end of the fiscal year. But it still doesn't look like they made the big bucks.)

Michael Stanclift 9 years, 2 months ago

They cut 23 people and only saved $200k? Who the hell did they cut then?

1on1 9 years, 2 months ago

That wrestling team will make some money.HAHAHA.

lesleydiane 9 years, 2 months ago

I am a recent graduate of Baker and know first hand the people who were cut. It was everyone from recent hires to employees with 20+ years of experience.

SweetpeaCE 9 years, 2 months ago

I am also a recent graduate, and spouse of a Baker employee. We are relieved that we weren't affected by this first round of layoffs, but from what we have heard...they won't be the last. We both are updating our resumes, and praying for the best!

Ragingbear 9 years, 2 months ago

By the picture, it looks like she didn't sleep the night before.

funtimesinks 9 years, 2 months ago

I think there could have been other steps taken, because I know other colleagues probably would have been willing to take a small pay cut in order to stay at full staff. Grant writers were cut, Student Activities, Study Abroad, Marketing, Maintenance and other areas. Two single moms, one with two kids in college were cut as well. Pretty shady. Dr. Pat has made no contact to my knowledge with any of these people that were laid off and no efforts have been made to assist these people with finding a job. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

KU_cynic 9 years, 2 months ago

I think the Baker president laid off her beautician.

bakeru 9 years, 2 months ago

Pat Long has the university's best interest in mind. She wouldn't do this unless she had no other viable option. The cuts have been hard for everyone, but I'm trusting Long. She's an experienced and passionate woman who knows what she's doing.

funtimesinks 9 years, 2 months ago

If she was more passionate, she could have given up more than 2 weeks of her salary. It's not like she's hurting for money with her salary, free residence provided by the university, etc...

bakeru 9 years, 2 months ago

Giving up two weeks of her salary isn't going to solve any long-term financial problems. Seriously... that's a ludicrous statement.

Confrontation 9 years, 2 months ago

You have to attract good professors, and paying their kids' tuition is part of that process. It's a small price to pay for great teachers and smart students.

Shardwurm 9 years, 2 months ago

All of you communists in support of everyone taking a pay cut to keep others employed need to get real. I don't know anyone (especially TEACHERS!) who would be keen on giving up anything to keep others employed.In the learning industry we all know how it works - tenure is king and all teachers are worth 10 times more than they're paid...blah blah blah.

DonnatellaMoss 9 years, 2 months ago

demonfury -- Actually, according to the most recent nonprofit tax reporting information that Baker has to file, it has no professors making over $100,000 per year. Administrators, yes, but no professors.

pickles 9 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if any of those administrators that makes more than $100,000 a year got fired. Some how I doubt it.

notajayhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

toe (Anonymous) says… "I wonder if the time will come when companies reduce the salaries of all to keep employment higher. The greater good trumps the individual in hard times."While I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment, toe (and I've heard of some companies doing just that), that is not a case of the greater good trumping the individual. Exactly the opposite, actually. When the jobs of a few individuals are saved at the expense of everyone else taking a pay cut, that's the individual trumping the greater good.

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