HR chief warns of lay-offs

The University anticipates that it will have to lay off between 50 and 80 employees due to budget concerns, Yale Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Schwartz said Thursday.

University Provost Susan Hockfield announced in October that Yale would be forced to cut its staff and other expenses because of a projected $30 million deficit in the 2004-05 fiscal year. She said at the time she hoped the staffing cuts would be handled largely through attrition.

The anticipated layoffs represent between 20 and 40 percent of the total projected staff cuts.

Deputy Provost for Biomedical and Health Affairs Stephanie Spangler said more information about where the cuts will occur should be available “over the next couple of weeks,” when individual departments finalize their budgeting figures.

Yale Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper said the University would provide job training and counseling to affected employees.

“I don’t take anyone’s job being laid off lightly,” Pepper said.

Schwartz said the University has not yet determined how many people it will let go, but he said officials discussed cutting between 50 and 80 jobs in a meeting last week.

“As departments are reviewing their plans, they are looking at all employees,” Schwartz said.

Pepper said Yale will eliminate between 200 and 250 total positions, with the majority through retirements. He said the layoffs represent less than one percent of the University’s total workforce.

The University has pledged to support workers affected by the layoffs. Schwartz said Yale will create a career resources center and provide tools for finding other jobs at the University and elsewhere. He said Yale will bring in Right Management, which he described as the leading outplacement company in the country, to provide job counseling, interview skills and training to those employees who cannot find other jobs at the University.

“We are going to do everything we can do to treat these people with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Schwartz said.

Local 35 President Bob Proto, whose union represents the University’s service and maintenance workers, said Yale should look at its “top heavy” administrative structure when making cuts. Proto said the university has over 3,600 managers and professionals and only 3,100 clerical and technical employees.

The University had not explained any specifics of the layoff plan to the unions as of Thursday, Proto said.

Laura Smith, the president of Local 34, which represents Yale’s clerical and technical employees, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Proto, Smith, Pepper and Medical School Interim Chief Financial Officer Jed Shivers are the four members of the Policy Board, created to work on improving the relationship between Yale and its unions. Pepper said the group will send a letter to the University community at 6 a.m. today to discuss the group’s “mutual commitment and hope.”

Pepper said he was optimistic that group will move past the layoffs.

Pepper said the University plans to cut spending five percent by reducing staff and an additional five percent through other means. Pepper said those means include negotiating better strategic contracts for items ranging from travel services to laboratory equipment, buying in scale, and reducing printing costs by using the internet to share documents. He said he was also looking at reforming energy use, in accordance with a proposal from the Yale College Council.

“We just have to work smarter,” Pepper said.

Yale is not the only university cutting staff because of budget woes. Harvard University has laid off a total of about 200 employees in all job levels over the past year, said Merry Touborg, the director of communications for Harvard’s office of human resources.

Touborg said Harvard had to cut jobs because the school’s endowment has not performed as well as it had in the past, the cost of benefits had increased and the staff had grown significantly during the boom years.

“Most parts of the university have had to adjust in some way or another,” Touborg said.

Touborg said more layoffs are anticipated at Harvard.

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