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 this month.
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 a March 10 e-mail message sent to the SOM community. “I am sorry we have to take these steps.”
Peel said last month that layoffs are a certainty. University projections on staff attrition indicate that as many as 300 total University employees could be laid off.
But Peel said in an interview this month 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 could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
“All is still being contemplated,” Peel said. “They’re just trying to let the workers know now.”
Oster reiterated what she wrote in her letter in an e-mail sent to the News last week, and she declined further comment due to “private personnel matters.” SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde 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 because she feared retribution from SOM administrators. “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 by the News said they were concerned about the pending layoffs because the SOM community is intimate. The other two said two weeks ago, when Oster announced the news, that they had not yet read their e-mails because it was exam week for SOM.
“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.”
Although SOM staff members may be worrying about their jobs, President Richard Levin said last month that no faculty members will be laid off. Levin also said last month that because funds already have been raised to support planning for the school’s new campus, the project’s design process has continued.
The last time the SOM saw layoffs was in 2004, when 76 employees were laid off University-wide.
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.
Derek Tam contributed reporting.