CSU Strives to Assist Laid-off Workers, Keep Staff Cuts Away from the Classroom

Colorado State University expects to layoff additional staff to manage reductions in next year’s budget—however, the total number of layoffs and position reductions since the beginning of 2009 has totaled just over 1 percent of the University’s work force and has included no tenured or tenure-track faculty.

“Even before the economic downturn, CSU was already operating with a leaner staff than most institutions of its size, so any time we lose a member of our workforce, it has an impact,” said CSU Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda. “Our biggest concern always has to be preserving the quality and availability of the education we offer our students. We’ve tried to focus the majority of budget and personnel cuts on administrative areas that don’t directly impact the classroom.”

Budget reduction plans for FY11 — which begins July 1, 2010 and ends June 30, 2011 — include possible elimination of about 50 currently filled positions.

CSU employs approximately 6,100 people, making it the largest employer in Northern Colorado and the City of Fort Collins. Since the beginning of 2009, CSU has eliminated or reduced 89 occupied positions, but 51 people who had held those jobs—nearly 60 percent of those displaced—are still working at the university. These individuals either agreed to a reduction in their position to part-time or a lower grade or they moved into positions vacated through retirements or resignations that had been exempted from the university’s hiring freeze due to their critical nature in sustaining ongoing operations.

The filled positions that have been impacted from Jan. 1, 2009 to the present are:

• 1 non-tenured instructor;
• 17 administrative professionals (2 of whom remain employed at CSU in a different capacity);
• 71 state classified staff (49 of whom have retained work at the university).

Of those who have left the university altogether, six were either probationary employees or retirees who had returned to work on campus after retirement. Six others waived retention rights or rejected offers of continued employment in a different department.

In addition, the university has substantially reduced personnel expenses by eliminating approximately 229 positions that became vacant through retirements or resignations since the start of the hiring freeze. It is estimated these position eliminations, in total, have saved nearly $15.1 million over this time period.

“We’re very concerned about doing whatever we can to help rebuild a healthy economy in Northern Colorado and not add to the unemployment burden in our region,” Miranda said. “When we’ve been forced to eliminate positions, we’ve worked hard to assist those employees in finding work in other open positions on campus whenever possible. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible in every case, but the majority of those laid off to this point have been able to find another job on campus.”

The elimination of filled positions reflects the institution’s ongoing efforts to streamline operations and manage state budget reductions, Miranda said. For example, the university closed its on-campus print shop earlier this year, impacting 11 staff members. All but three of those staff members remain employed on campus.

CSU officials are anticipating a cut in state funding of about $13 million next year and plan to reduce almost that same amount in expenses, primarily through reducing operating budgets and continuing a hiring freeze that has been in place for more than a year. The average cut proposed for administrative units next year is 5.9 percent and 4.3 percent for academic colleges—again keeping the deepest hits on the administrative side.

In last year’s budget, administrative units took twice the cut on a percentage basis that the academic colleges took—with the President’s Office taking the deepest hit of any unit on campus through a 44 percent base budget cut in FY2009 and another 2.7 percent in FY2010. Frequent updates about the university’s budget—including the latest draft incremental budget for next year—are posted online at http://www.pres.colostate.edu/.