University News

Layoffs of 31 U. employees made official

By and
Senior Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All 31 University employees who were scheduled to be laid off by June 30 have now been informed of their termination, according to an e-mail sent by top administrators to faculty and staff Tuesday morning.

An undetermined number will receive other jobs within the University, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper told The Herald Tuesday.

The layoffs finalize the immediate budget cuts planned for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the e-mail said. In order to cut $30 million in projected spending from the general budget and $10 million from the Division of Biology and Medicine’s budget for next year, the University also eliminated 36 vacant positions and froze most salary increases and staff hiring.

No jobs in academic departments were eliminated, she said, though the number of positions cut in Facilities Management was relatively high because the University is reducing its planned construction projects.

Eight people were laid off in the approximately 30-person Planning, Design and Construction Office of Facilities Management, according to Karen McAninch, the business agent for United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island, the union that represents facilities and library employees.

Four vacant custodial positions will not be refilled, and the contracts of temporary library employees will not be extended, McAninch added.

No union members were laid off, according to McAninch. Brown has union contracts with some workers in Dining Services, the Department of Public Safety, the libraries and Facilities Management.

Two of the planning office employees let go were project managers, according to another project manager, who asked to remain anonymous.

Huidekoper did not provide specific numbers on where cuts occurred throughout the University. The jobs cut were “pretty equally dispersed across campus,” she said.

Severance packages, which normally include the equivalent of two weeks’ pay for each year an employee has worked at Brown, were “effectively doubled” for those being laid off now, Huidekoper said.

Savings from the salary freeze will be the “major source” of budget reductions next year, according to the e-mail. Administrators expect the layoffs and eliminated vacant positions to save the University $6 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Union members are also not subject to the current salary freeze because union contracts stipulate yearly salary increases, Huidekoper said. Those contracts are not scheduled to come up for review in the near future, she said.

And Huidekoper admitted there would be “some costs” associated with the cuts from severance packages and commitment to transitional assistance. Those costs will remain unclear until it is determined how many employees will receive other positions at Brown, she said.

The administration foresees more cuts and possible layoffs in future years, according to Huidekoper.

“We know we aren’t done yet,” she said.

Decisions about further budget reductions will be made next year and will go into effect in July 2010, according to the e-mail, which was sent by Huidekoper and Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98. Decisions about further position eliminations will probably not be made until next spring, the e-mail said.

The current round of cuts represents a stark turnaround from the last several years, during which the University enjoyed robust fiscal health under President Ruth Simmons and sought to grow aggressively.

“Brown hasn’t been doing layoffs in a long time,” McAninch said.

Some of Brown’s peer universities have also recently had to lay off employees. Dartmouth cut 60 staff members and reduced hours for 28 more in February. Yale may have to lay off as many as 300 employees, the Yale Daily News reported in February.