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Archive for Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Med Center puts hiring on hold

January 27, 2009

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State budget woes aren’t just affecting Kansas University’s main campus — officials are feeling the effects at the KU Medical Center, too.

A 90-day waiting period is in effect for all new job offers at KUMC, and many open positions are being frozen.

Top KUMC officials, though, warn that the worst is likely yet to come as the Legislature continues to work out the budget.

Through the 90-day hiring delay and with the frozen positions, KUMC has been able to satisfy cuts of 3 percent in the current fiscal year, said Ed Phillips, vice chancellor for administration at KUMC.

For more cuts, KUMC has asked its deans and vice chancellors to review their budgets to look for additional savings for anticipated cuts in upcoming fiscal years.

“We are, quite frankly, just in the middle of that process,” Phillips said.

About 300 positions are vacant, he said, but did not know a detailed breakdown of how many would be filled and how many would be held open.

He said that if cuts come in as predicted — an estimated $8.5 million worth of them — additional reductions in staffing would be necessary.

Amy Jordan Wooden, a KUMC spokeswoman, said that quick action from the Legislature on cuts for this fiscal year would help the medical center be able to sort out the upcoming fiscal year.

“We’re hoping that the Legislature moves swiftly,” she said.

Phillips said that KUMC is always looking for more ways to be efficient, including cutting back on library hours and using smarter purchasing options.

Phillips said he anticipated that funding for the KU Cancer Center would continue to be a priority, including its pursuit to become a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.

“We’ll continue our march toward NCI designation,” he said.

Phillips said the KUMC relies more on state funding than does the Lawrence campus, because, although they receive similar amounts of state aid, the Lawrence campus gets tuition for about 27,000 students, while the medical center has about 3,100 students.

And the costs of education can quickly mount, too.

“It costs more money to make a doctor or a nurse or a therapist than it does to make an English teacher,” Phillips said.

Much like their Lawrence counterparts did last week, top officials at the Medical Center met with faculty to address questions about the budget process.

Susan Carlson is the chairwoman of the Faculty Assembly Steering Committee at KUMC, a group that represents medical center faculty members both from Kansas City and Wichita. She said that she appreciated the willingness of the leadership to meet with the faculty.

She said everyone is planning for different levels of cuts.

“Nobody really knows yet what the real budget might be,” she said. “We’re just kind of in a wait-and-see mode.”

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