President warns of tougher times at town hall meeting
Dec 17, 2008
Additional layoffs are likely at The University of Toledo to address a looming budget shortfall, President Lloyd Jacobs said yesterday at a town hall meeting on Health Science Campus that was attended by some 150 employees.
Although he expects additional layoffs will be necessary, the president said it’s too soon to say how many and pledged to approach budget cuts and layoffs in “a careful, humanitarian way” and “live out our core values of patient and student-centeredness.”
Nearly 100 temporary employees were to be laid off this week, and empty or unfilled positions across the University will be eliminated.
In addition to laying off temporary employees, the University is freezing hiring except in critical areas. Jacobs said the measures are aimed at solving the immediate crisis and pledged that long-term solutions will be more strategic measures aimed at protecting core academic programs and minimizing impact on students.
The University cut $750,000 from its budget in October of this year and additional cuts, including layoffs and not filling vacant positions, are likely in order to balance the next fiscal year’s budget due next July 1.
The state is facing a $640 million deficit for the current budget and a $7 billion deficit projected for the following two years.
While a hiring freeze is now in place, faculty and student positions, including part-time faculty members, will not be cut for the time being. Most graduate students who are paid with federal money for performing teaching duties also will not face layoffs for the time being.
The president said he and members of his senior leadership team are planning for different scenarios, which range in cuts of 7 percent to 15 percent, and that the University may have to take “even more Draconian measures,” including reducing the number of colleges, eliminating or consolidating programs or making more programs self-sufficient.
An early retirement incentive program already exists for tenure-line faculty under the recently approved contact between the University and the American Association for University Professors, and Jacobs said it was likely that such a program will be offered to administrative staff and nonacademic employees as well.
Jacobs rejected suggestions that the University shut down over semester break or ask all employees to take mandatory pay cuts as ways to save money.
“Those aren’t great strategies,” the president said.
Planning for capital projects like the new building on Health Science Campus for the College of Pharmacy will continue, the president stressed.
The president held out hope that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will spare higher education, which has enjoyed unprecedented state support and tuition freezes, because he recognizes the importance of higher education in helping to turn around the state’s economy.
“Higher education is our only hope to get out of this mess,” Jacobs said. “We must keep our eye on the ball.”
Jacobs asked employees to remain positive and “don’t allow [yourselves] to spiral into a state of despair.
“By keeping the University’s mission and core values in mind, I do believe we can emerge from this crisis as a stronger, more focused university,” he said.
He added that he welcomes suggestions from faculty, administrative staff and students about ways to increase revenues and save money.