Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pink isn't always for breast cancer

Even when you know it's coming, even if you fully agree that it must be done (and should have been done years earlier), it still is a bit of a shock when it finally happens.

The university laid off twenty-five people yesterday, the first lay offs since before I began working here over sixteen years ago.

For the last five years or so, there have been regular articles - including some in higher ed related publications - citing the well-ahead-of-the-inflation-rate increases in tuition and administrative bloat at colleges and universities. If universities are to survive, they need to reevaluate their management structure and make some serious changes.

We are no exception.

In the long run, this will be good for the university, cutting costs, refocusing our mission and allowing us to continue to provide a top tier liberal arts education for years to come.

In the short run, it pretty much sucks.

The cuts are all administrative, not faculty, and at every level from vice president down to admin assistant. Some of these are people I've worked closely with for years.

No one from my own department was in this batch, a fact which appears to be raising some ire across campus. It's natural to view any cuts, whether in funding or positions, as driven by those trolls in the Finance Department. We are the easy target.

What people don't see is that we, too, are downsizing. We've let 1.5 full time equivalents go in the last two years. Two people are retiring before the end of this fiscal year; those positions, too, will be eliminated with the duties folded into other positions. This, though as a department we've always run on the lean side.

If you are so inclined, send up a prayer on behalf of those who lost their jobs, for peace of mind and quick resolution of their future plans.

While you are at it, you might want to pray for the rest of us as well. The atmosphere around the office has been rather...stretched...since the start of this process in November, when departments were asked to submit spending plans based on three lower funding levels. Since the announcement yesterday, things have only become more tense.

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