Layoffs to come at SOM

To cope with the University-mandated 7.5 percent cut in total staff salary costs, the School of Management will lay off “a number” of staff while reducing work hours for others, SOM Dean Sharon Oster announced Tuesday.

Staff to be laid off will be notified “shortly,” she said, although University Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said details have not yet been finalized.

“Although we did our best to minimize the impact on staff positions, we were unable to meet all of our budget reduction goals through cost-cutting efforts, not filling open positions and staff attrition,” Oster said in an e-mail message sent to the SOM community Tuesday. “I am sorry we have to take these steps.”

Peel said last month that layoffs would be certain at the University. University projections on staff attrition indicate that as many as 300 total University employees could be laid off.

But Peel said in an interview Wednesday that he believes the number of SOM layoffs will be “relatively small.” Before precise details can be finalized, the SOM layoff plan must be checked and approved by Human Resource Generalist Susan Plagenhoef. Plagenhoef did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday evening.

“All is still being contemplated,” Peel said. “They’re just trying to let the workers know now.”

SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde — speaking for Oster, who is in China — declined to comment for this story.

Over the last several weeks, Oster asked staff to think of ways SOM could reduce its operating budget without reverting to layoffs. But in the end, layoffs were unavoidable.

“It was a shock,” said one SOM manager, who asked to remain anonymous. “I don’t want to see anybody lose their jobs.”

The manager said she recently requested additional staff. If layoffs occur in her department, the manager said, her staff will do “the best we can.”

Three of five SOM students interviewed Wednesday by the News said they were concerned about the pending layoffs because the SOM community is intimate. The other two said they had not read their e-mails because it is exam week.

“We’re such a small community that any absence would be noticed,” Joseph Gabriel SOM ’10 said. “We have such close contact with the staff members. We’re on a first-name basis.”

The last time the SOM saw layoffs was in 2004, when 76 employees were laid off Universitywide.

In February, Peel announced the creation of a Career Center to help any employee who seeks job search and training assistance. At the time, the University also announced it will double severance benefits — from one week of pay per year to two — for those who lose their jobs any time through late August.

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