Yale will fire up to 300 staff

New projections on staff attrition indicate that as many as 300 employees could be laid off as Yale copes with the economic downturn, though administrators said today that the University will double severance benefits for those who lose their jobs in the next six months.

The grim economic outlook has forced the University to cut deeper into staff salaries, slating the equivalent of 500 to 600 positions for elimination. But in a letter to Yale managers today, Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said that the typical annual rate of attrition and turnover is only between 300 and 500. Since the gap cannot be closed by simply leaving open positions vacant, the difference will have to be made with some involuntary layoffs, administrators said.

“We’re using the budget reductions to relook the way work is done,” Peel said in an interview today. “And as part of that, we are trying to better accommodate people’s needs in instances we can.”

For those who are laid off, Peel said in the letter, the University will double their severance benefits – from one week of pay per year of service to two. All of these employees will be guaranteed at least four weeks of pay, Peel said, and no one will get more than 52.

Administrators said they have not yet determined which departments will be affected by the cuts. Employees who are laid off, though, will have priority if there are job vacancies elsewhere in the University. A Career Center will be opened to help employees with job search and training assistance.

Before eliminating regular staff, Peel recommended that managers first turn to eliminating overtime, temporary workers and contractors.

“Eliminating these ‘surge’ expenditures is essential to not only retaining as many staff members as possible as we weather this economic crisis, but also to demonstrate to our people that all alternatives to layoffs are being aggressively pursued,” Peel wrote in the letter.

Peel also recommended in the letter that managers work with employees to allow them to take unpaid leaves they want during this period of belt-tightening.

And, ultimately, Peel said in the letter, eliminating jobs means eliminating work.

“We are encouraging managers not to just scale back people, but also to look at work that could be eliminated,” Peel said. “Are there things that we can stop doing that is low-value work and that are work that just isn’t important?”

The boost to severance benefits means the University will not immediately see the savings from the layoffs, Provost Peter Salovey explained. But it still helps, he said, because the budget gap resulting from the endowment’s 25-percent plunge will widen over time.

As for fiscal year 2010, the University-ordered 7.5 percent cuts in staff and non-personnel costs will save an additional $37 million on top of the cost-cutting measures announced in December. Still, Yale still has not balanced the entirety of its $100 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2010.

The last large-scale layoff of Yale employees occurred in February 2004, when 76 people were cut.


  • mmm


  • JHC

    question - if your laid off and take the severance package AND an opening occurs where one laid off worker can take dibs upon - will they have to return the money ? or can they keep the weeks of pay and continue to be employed at Yale
    It would be like starting over ,ooowa

  • unsurprising

    Yale has a fairly bloated bureaucracy.

    The Yale bubble is not outside the recession.

  • Anonymous

    Will they reduce staff at all levels, Senior Management, Mid Management, Clerical and Technical? Is it true that the only group not being considered is Faculty and Local 35?

  • ricky levine

    300 layoffs right after Yale just gave an additional $2.5 million to New Haven? What is wrong with these people? The layoffs will more then negate any benefit from the extra contribution to New Haven.

  • T.R

    Hey YDN are you thinking of re-running that article from, when was it? last November? titled "Should Yale be Free." Seems like you plan like politicians overspend when the accounts are full and wonder what happend when they shrink.

  • Bob Nelson

    If Yale follows the trend of other universities, all of its cuts will be in teaching, research and service. Basically, the objectives most university “Role and Mission Statements” stress is the purpose of their institution’s existence. Only Vanderbilt University has reportedly cut their athletic department, but not individual sports. Unfortunately, universities have never learned how to deal with Washington’s edicts as efficiently as the military. They have responded by hiring people and creating special offices; whereas the military would just send a letter giving someone additional duties and titles.

  • Anonymous

    I ask senior management to please come out with the bad news as quickly and concretely as possible.
    I care deeply about my work at Yale hope that officials will communicate the explicit consequences of this financial crisis for workers on the ground.
    It is frustrating to learn about possible termination from the Yale Daily News.
    In addition, I do not find the anonymous aspect of this forum helpful.

  • sciencealum

    Yale is cutting up to 300 staff…yet they are bragging that unlike Princeton and Harvard, they are not instituting a faculty hiring freeze. Hrm.

  • Confused Employee

    I think it is somewhat sleazy of the Daily News to post a story like this. Being an employee of the University I have seen the emails from President Levin, and can't believe the administration would leak something like this into the media without notifying the staff first. Seems like a low blow by the Daily News to get some media attention, and now people may be getting worked up who don't need to be. If the administration was aware and supplied this information willingly, then shame on them.

  • roy

    would it not make more sense to have a progressive salary cut for 18-24 months in all your departments until attrition makes up for the differential in planned layoffs:
    Concept example:
    salary range / cut
    etc etc
    in 2 years (or less or more) the cuts wld be reversed gradually for all employees as the economy improves.

  • Worked Up Employee

    Who exactly is getting worked up about this who doesn't need to be? I'm scared, and with good reason. Thanks to the Daily News for at least keeping up from getting caught with our pants down.

  • Anonymous

    I find it interesting that Yale is willing to increase financial aid while simultaneously laying off 300 workers and throwing them into a financial tailspin, leaving our government to pay their health insurance and unemployment benefits. I would think the university would consider not ruining the lives of their soon to be former employees before they offered financial aid to those that cannot afford to pay their way through such an expensive college. Surely these bright kids can find a good education at their state universities and not disrupt the lives of the current employees of Yale. I personally find this distasteful.

  • Ernie D

    Yale is not laying off faculty. Faculty has received salary cuts. According to Local 35s last conract, they cannot be laid off, nor can their salary or grade level reduced.

  • Purpose

    Yale exists for the STUDENTS (and perhaps to a very distant and lesser degree, its faculty) NOT for the employees.

  • to #13

    Yale exists to educate students. It hires staff to help do this, but the staffs only purpose is to help educate students. This comment just shows the Yales staff's (not including faculty) view that the school is here for them, which it is not. Why would they hurt students to help staff? It doesn't serve the school's purpose.

  • Y09

    It's outrageous that Bruce Alexander is funneling even more millions of Yale's dollars into DeStefano's coffers… You wanna talk about Dutch disease? Start with New Haven.

  • Anonymous

    #16, I am not staff, just an individual who thinks Yale's actions are cold, hypocritical and misguided. You commented "that the staffs only purpose is to help educate students". Does that education not include compassion or are you just learning to look at what's good for you and not your community? Why do you consider hardworking individuals to be so disposable and insignificant? Would it be a terrible option for a low income student to go to a state university so that another family can keep a roof over its head? Yale will still have a full student body, just one that pays their own way. Difficult times require sacrifice. I just think loyalty to staff should override the funding of low income students' education because those students still have the opportunity to attend another school. By firing staff, Yale actually diminishes its ability to optimally serve students because its staff has lost experience.

  • Seeking Truth

    The best thing Yale could do for the world is to simply close down. It's graduates have done enough damage already

  • Watchman

    This weekend, the administration is torturing those employees who are at risk of losing their jobs. Why not cut salaries, as suggested by Roy, rather than casting some employees adrift in this dreadful job market and destroying their lives and those of their families? Anyone given the choice of taking a pay cut and losing his or her job would, I am sure, take the pay cut. Better a less well-paying job than no job at all. I suspect that the Administration is using this opportunity to get rid of people they don't want! If I am wrong, surely the Administration could come up with a plan like Roy's without its collective head exploding.

  • Texas Aggie

    I read today that a Yale economist thinks that somehow cramdown is a bad idea for people who cannot pay their mortgages. If this is true, may I suggest that this particular individual be in the forefront of those indulging in involuntary retirement. It will save a lot more money and thus jobs than firing a janitor, especially if the rules for faculty severance packages are not changed.

  • Recent Alum

    #19: Actually, "Seeking Truth," Mr. Obama attended Harvard Law and has no connection to Yale.

    You must be thinking of former President Clinton…

  • Jeronimo Dan

    If any of the factuality is guilty of teaching our last president, then they should be let go. "W" proved that money will buy a passing grade, but certainly not a education

  • Opinionated Old Grouch

    Maybe this staff cut would not be necessary if some administrators were not paid more than the president of the United States.