Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 26 2011
MSUM president says layoffs possible
President Edna Szymanski told members of the faculty union Tuesday that the budget cuts MSUM faces may require the university to lay off long-term employees.
“Given the magnitude of it, I have to tell you there’s a fair probability of retrenchment,” Szymanski told faculty. “I will try to limit it, but I can offer no guarantees.”
Szymanski said she’s notifying each of the employee unions of the possibility, as she’s required to do per their bargaining agreements.
MSUM officials won’t have a clear picture of the budget until this summer, after the Legislature has adjourned, the board of trustees has set tuition and fall enrollment estimates become more firm.
“We might make it. I don’t know,” Szymanski said. “This is a pretty large cut on top of a pretty large cut.”
Two years ago, MSUM “barely managed” to avoid laying off employees when faced with a $9.1 million budget gap, representing 14.5 percent of the general fund budget, Szymanski said.
For the biennium that starts July 1, MSUM officials anticipate another decrease between $5.8 million and $7.5 million, or between 9 percent and 11.6 percent of the university’s budget.
MSUM has already reduced its personnel by 85 long-term employees, including 38 faculty members, through hiring restrictions, early retirement incentives and some reorganization.
Szymanski said she expects to tell the campus in early July whether layoffs will be required.
“It is grim news,” said Cindy Phillips, president of the MSUM chapter of the faculty union.
“But not unexpected,” Szymanski added.
If tenured or other long-term faculty members are laid off, they would continue to teach next academic year, per their contracts.
The length of notice that other employee unions receive varies.
Szymanski said if she has to lay off employees, she will look at areas that will have the least effect on students. She said she does not anticipate cutting any academic programs.
“We’re very careful in terms of what we do and where we do it, so that it really does not have a major impact on students,” Szymanski said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590