Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KU eliminating 11 jobs and not filling 110 open positions

A KU student leaves Strong Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday and passes a reflection in a stone sculpture pedestal. The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a plan that would allow universities to keep state sales taxes collected on their campuses as a way to raise scholarship funds.

A KU student leaves Strong Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday and passes a reflection in a stone sculpture pedestal. The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a plan that would allow universities to keep state sales taxes collected on their campuses as a way to raise scholarship funds.

January 21, 2009, 3:54 p.m. Updated January 21, 2009, 11:48 p.m.


KU won't fill empty slots, lays off 11

By not filling empty positions and firing 11 people, Kansas University shows it's not immune to the tough economy. Enlarge video

To meet state budget restrictions, Kansas University will eliminate 11 currently filled jobs and not fill 110 open positions on its Lawrence campus.

The 11 layoffs represent 10.5 full-time equivalent positions. Seven of the 11 positions have come from the Department of Student Success, which oversees several different university programs, including the Department of Student Housing, the KU Memorial Unions and other academic support programs, Lynn Bretz, university spokeswoman, said Wednesday.

The employees will be given opportunities to find other KU jobs; one has already been placed in another job, Bretz said, and another is moving from full time to half time.

The jobs for nine won’t be affected until June 30, which is the end of KU’s current fiscal year. One won’t be affected until January 2010.

“It is painful for employers to have to sit down and tell employees they’re losing their jobs,” Bretz said, adding it’s always a last resort for the university.

Of the 110 open positions being cut, 55 are faculty positions and 55 are nonfaculty, Bretz said.

“We don’t have a hiring freeze” at the university, Bretz said. “But we’ve really, really slowed down our hiring.”

The reductions should be sufficient to meet the 7 percent — or $10.8 million — in cuts mandated by the Legislature for fiscal year 2010, but Bretz warned that additional reductions in funding could mean additional losses.

KU has also made other adjustments to meet the budget requirements. Bretz said the university has trimmed travel and technology costs, cut or delayed equipment purchases and transitioned the campus faculty newsletter to online-only, among other cuts.

In August, the Kansas Board of Regents asked its universities to prepare for 7 percent budget cuts. Then, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway wrote in a memo that cutting faculty positions would negatively affect the university.

“The continued failure to hire faculty creates a lack of expertise in emerging fields, gaps in future leadership cohorts, and undermines overall institutional reputation,” Hemenway wrote.

The cuts are being made across the university, Bretz said, with the provost asking individual deans to make cuts as they see fit in their departments.

KU is currently running ahead of projections made in August, when the university predicted it would have to eliminate about 100 positions to meet a 7 percent reduction in funds.

The layoffs represent the first set of KU reactions to budget cuts, Bretz said.

A previous set of layoffs of 10 people in KU’s Information Services department last year was part of a separate efficiency measure, and was unrelated to state budget issues, Bretz said.


withchild 9 years, 4 months ago

The university should get rid of high paid spokesperson like Bretz. She makes six figures and says nothing but platitudes. One can always predict her comments. They release the staff who help students and keep a mouthpiece.

ItsOkayToDisagree 9 years, 4 months ago

Meanwhile, Lew Perkins adds a chief of staff position that pays $90,000-plus

Phillbert 9 years, 4 months ago

The vast majority of athletics facilities were paid for and maintained with donations and ticket sales (same as athletics salaries.) Same with the KU Endowment building and I'm guessing the Alumni Association building too. Besides, it would take a lot of "rent" to make up for the tens of millions that the state government is cutting.

iplaysupernintendo 9 years, 4 months ago

I think the LAST place KU should be cutting jobs is in the Dept. of Student Success... Ugh.KU is nothing but a bunch of red tape, and the only department that is ever willing to help is Student Sucess. Shame to see 'em leave.

Bruce Bertsch 9 years, 4 months ago

Once again those with no clue post garbage about KU. KU Athletics Inc., does pay rent. In fact, the rent on the parking facilities pays for 1/3 of the parking budget. Also the $89k number likely includes the total costs including unemployment, workers comp, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare and mandatory retirement payments which reflect the true costs to any business.

N_Trenched 9 years, 4 months ago

moderationman makes a good point. The KUAD is one of the few departments that actually makes money at KU. It doesn't say much for KU or the state when a bunch of so-called " Intellects " can't stay out of the red.

tunahelper 9 years, 4 months ago

the dept of student success, all they do is read report cards. cut the whole dept. how freakin stupid!

penguin 9 years, 4 months ago

if you think parking increases would help pay for other things at KU, you have to be kidding. Parking department money does pay for those areas that would be hit by state budget cuts.

Phillbert 9 years, 4 months ago

Dividing the $10M cut by the number of positions and thinking that gives you the average salary isn't accurate because there have been previous stories about other cuts that are being made, like museum hours. I'd guess travel and technology probably are taking hits too since those are usually the first to go. Plus the article doesn't say the jobs are in housing or the union, it just says Student Success oversees them. As someone pointed out those units aren't state funded so cuts there wouldn't save any state money, just like a new position at athletics doesn't cost any state money. Finally, before we knock KU for the state's budget problems I'd be interested in hearing about a business beyond post-forclosure cleaning firms and pawn shops that's doing well in this economy.

KU_cynic 9 years, 4 months ago

I am somewhat skeptical about the supposed 55 faculty positions that will go unfilled. That figure suggests that KU's faculty will shrink or will have shrunk by 55 from this year's or last year's headcount. Absent more details, I don't believe the figure. My understanding was that the College had suspended some 18-20 faculty searches. It's hard to fathom that the balance of suspended searches and critical retirements at other academic units at KU would add to that up to 55. Instead, what I suspect is that the University has a "wish list" set of faculty openings -- positions that have never been filled or realistically planned to be filled. For instance, some faculty may be in final legs of phased retirements that don't leave a big void in terms of classroom presence or research productivity, and there never really were any plans to replace them with some high-priced young flatbellied new professors. So, when Professor Mothballs who's working 1/3 time on 1/3 of an inverted salary finally shuffles off then KU says "We're down one," when we're not really missing the geezer. Perhaps I'm totally off base, but I'd like to see a list of these 55 faculty positions by unit/department and rank.

Bassetlover 9 years, 4 months ago

Withchild---Try shadowing Lynn Bretz for a full, a full 24 hours....and you'll be eating your words in no time. She earns every single dime of her salary. In fact, she is probably underpaid for all the crappola she puts up with, not to mention being on-call 24/7 with a cell phone that rings that entire time. She has one of the most difficult positions at KU and has served the university well. You simply don't have a clue.

davidsmom 9 years, 4 months ago

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon just announced that no cuts will be made to the budget for higher education in the next fiscal year; he will hold the budget at the same level as the current fiscal year if the institutions promise not to raise tuition and required fees. Sebelius and the Kansas legislature should follow Missouri's lead.

kujayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

"charge ku athletics rent for its use of our facilities that we paid for with tax dollars. budget problem solved"You have no idea what you are talking about. The free publicity and the donations our university gets because of the athletic teams, specifically football and basketball, is priceless.

JoRight 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, there are more than 11 jobs being cut. I don't know how false information such as this reach the news. . .then again, it's KU & LJW.

overthemoon 9 years, 4 months ago

"Seven percent, or $10.8M, is representative of 120.5 employees, or $89,626 per employee"The cost of employing university staff is, like it is for any business, far more than the employee's salary. There are benefits, KPERS, workman's comp, etc etc. A position costing the employer 89k is probably a 30-40k position.

elemental 9 years, 4 months ago

Where is your empathy for real people who have lost their jobs? And for students served by people who have lost their jobs? Student Success is staffed by excellent professional men and women: 11 of whom are people who live in your community...who have lost their jobs. I'm nauseated by the criticism,and cynical attitude in all your comments here toward this news. And really also disappointed that allows this forum, a consistently negative and blaming forum. I await the "oh, get over yourself" replies...Well, welcome to the City Newspaper, but check your compassion at the door.

jayhawks71 9 years, 4 months ago

Two comments:First, someone came up with the 89k figure. Remember that employee compensation includes things like health insurance costs and money deposited into retirement funds (aka, fringe benefits).Second, regarding Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's "stance." He doesn't make the state budget. The MO. Legislature has say on whether or not higher ed in MO is cut, not the governor.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

I always feel bad when anyone losses there job, either at KU, Garage door group, or whatever. As far as the students, they do have a choice in schools. Nothing will scare a college more then lower enrollment. That will probably happen nationwide for a year or two due to the economy and harder to get loans.

Dawn Shew 9 years, 4 months ago

This idea that the big cats up on the hill are raking in the dough while the poor widdle student or unsuspecting tax payer pays is a load. Most of the staff at KU are paid under the median for our area-- meaning if they did the same job at most other Big 12 schools, they would make more. Add to that an exorbitant cost of living that just goes up while everyone's getting paid less. Many of the "flat-bellied professors" are also earning less than they might make at other institutions.If we fail to recruit and keep competitive faculty and staff, the value of the entire university is diminished.I don't deny that there are areas where KU could cut a lot of fat-- but I don't think that staff is the first place I'd recommend hunting. Between the already low rate of pay, the lack of recognition, and the disrespectful, entitled attitude of many of the students, I would think that it wouldn't take much of a pay cut to start folks packing. And here's a newsflash: it takes STAFF to run a university of 30,000+ students, and FACULTY to teach them.

jayhawks71 9 years, 4 months ago

"How does 11 job losses translate to 10.5 equivalent full time? 11 used to be eleven"Not everyone has a full-time position. perhaps there are 11 jobs, 10 full time and one half time or 9 full time and two 3/4 time. FTE is de rigeur for universities.

jayhawks71 9 years, 4 months ago

I was just addressing the part of your comment that stated what I quoted.

yankeevet 9 years, 4 months ago

sign of the times; its gonna get worse; layoffs; come the soup lines.......

beawolf 9 years, 4 months ago

elemental,You apparently do not read these blogs very often. You will notice it's usually the same uniformed posters with very little to add except cynicism, devoid of any semblance of truth or validity. They post to see themselves in print and relish the comments they receive.Those who do offer valid observations are often drowned in this sea of stupidity.I read these primarily for the entertainment value. I suggest you do the same.

shutterbug433 9 years, 4 months ago

Yes Larry, graduate students do teach a lot of the classes, but who will teach the graduate students? I am a grad student myself, and my department is suffering badly due to these cuts. Since we don't have enough professors, courses that should be taught every year are now put to every other year, and now I am risking not graduating on time due to these cuts in faculty, which is also a result of me paying more money to this university for staying here another year. The money NEEDS to come back to education, the quality is diminishing and everyday I think of transferring to another university because of it.

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 4 months ago

looks like I picked the wrong day to quit poppin' pills.

justaverage 9 years, 4 months ago

The Chamber of Commerce lists 9,396 people employed at KU. Cutting 11 jobs and not filling 110 is small. I believe the entire Regents system needs to be overhauled.I believe this not to hurt the system, but to help it survive in the 21st century.

Dawn Shew 9 years, 4 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront: "at KU some of the “couples” have both spouse or partners employed. talk about cleaning the pot out."Is it your contention that couples should not work for the same company? Or that as a couple they should only earn one paycheck, even though they are doing two people's work? On the first point, the fact that many in academia tend to marry/partner in academia, coupled with the fact that there are no other institutions of this caliber within reasonable driving distance, would mean we would fail to recruit good faculty to the area. Are you contending that we go into the Hallmark plant, the county budget, or the Lawrence School district and enforce the same rule since it "comes from the same pot?"On the second point, why wouldn't two people, doing to different jobs, most likely in two different areas, receive two paychecks? Have I forfeited my right to earn because my partner works across campus? This argument just doesn't make any sense.

bangaranggerg 9 years, 4 months ago

This photo again? Is it supposed to be artistic? It's total crap.

Bladerunner 9 years, 4 months ago

I believe Flamingdragon was being naughty!

sassything 9 years, 4 months ago

just a quick comment on the approximately 10 million in savings for 120 jobs. In addition to John Doe's salary of $61,000 the university also might pay another $13,500 in benefits (health insurance, retirement, disabilty insurance, workers comp etc.) and another $4,000 in employer paid taxes (unemployment insurance, matching social security tax etc.). so while John Doe only earns $60,000 per year, he costs KU $80,000 in salary and fringe.Even folks who earn $30,000 in gross salary cost the university another $8100 in employer expenses (as noted above). So pretend that fringe costs are always an additional cost of 27% of annual gross salary - (just as an example) that means 2.7 million of 10 million in savings would be in "fringe" costs not paid. That makes 7.3 million in actual salary to employee that is saved. Divided between 120 positions - that is more like $60,000 per person (in actual salary) not $89,000.

sassything 9 years, 4 months ago

BTW that number of 11 is not accurate. There were 7 in Student success and at least 7 in IT that were not "reappointed" - so that is more than 11 people losing jobs right there. My math may be weak but that adds up to 14. And these are real people earning real paychecks who won't be earning them anymore and will have to find new jobs. Sounds like a cut to me.

beawolf 9 years, 4 months ago

sassything,Is that in addition to the 10 that the article mentions? If so, that's a hefty chunk of employees from the one department that could actually help reduce KU expenses.

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