State reductions force UM to lay off 67 at College Park As many as 240 jobs could be in jeopardy

October 15, 1991|By Patricia Meisol CbB

Deans and department heads at the University of Maryland at College Park were to notify 67 employees this morning that they would lose their jobs because of budget cuts brought on by a loss of state funds.

The layoffs at the state's main public research campus, affecting 30 departments, are unprecedented in the university's 135-year history, officials said.

They represent only about one-fourth of the pink slips that could be delivered on campus beginning July 1 if the economic picture does not change. So far, the teaching staff is not affected.

Before a second round of cuts to this year's budget was announced two weeks ago, the campus had hoped to balance its budget by furloughing employees, freezing purchases of equipment, keeping faculty vacancies open and raising tuition.

The layoffs affect 2 percent of the 3,024 employees who play the leastdirect supporting role to faculty or academic enterprises. Their jobs range from mowing lawns to typing grant applications or raising private funds, and some have worked at the university as long as 20 years. They are the first of what College Park President William E. Kirwan said last month could be as many as 240 layoffs in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"This is a very sad day for the university," Dr. Kirwan said in a prepared statement yesterday. "The state's budget crisis continues to have a devastating impact on the university. Now we have been forced to lay off people."

College Park officials said they would not reveal the departments affected by today's notices, which were to be delivered personally, because employees had not yet been notified. Spokeswoman Roz Hiebert said no departments or services would be eliminated entirely as a result of the layoffs on the 35,000-student campus.

"It will exacerbate the ongoing situation, where now we have to carry our garbage down the halls, and our offices don't get cleaned as often," she said. "Everybody is going to have to suffer."

A shortage of staff already has led the campus to reduce hours in its health center and some of its libraries.

College Park employs a total professional and clerical staff of 9,440, of whom 63 percent are full time. The faculty numbers 2,631, most of them full time.

Most of those to be laid off -- 56 of the 67 -- would have priority if the university finds money to fill their jobs again in the future. The average salary in this group is $22,375.

The remainder of those to be laid off are professional staff whose salaries average $40,000. They are not automatically entitled to their jobsback.

University officials have set up career counseling and job banks to help the employees, most of whom will receive 90 days' notice.

Budget shortfalls during the past two years have led at least two other campuses of the state university system to lay off full-time employ- ees.

They include the University of Maryland at Baltimore's professional schools campus, which laid off 35 people and eliminated 56 vacant positions last spring, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Catonsville, which laid off people or eliminated vacant jobs for a total of 26 fewer positions in the past two years.

"If you don't have as many people to type your grants, it weighs heavily on the faculty," said campus spokeswoman Louise White.

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