Cuts In College Jobs, Budget

Md. Universities To Lose 175 Positions, Trim $37.8 Million

August 01, 2009|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,childs.walker@baltsun.com

The University System of Maryland will cut 175 jobs and freeze hiring as part of its overall plan to cut $37.8 million from the 2010 budget, a move that probably will lead to fuller classrooms and the elimination of underenrolled courses, said Chancellor William E. Kirwan.

Kirwan submitted his planned cuts Friday to the state Department of Budget and Management. They are part of the $281 million in statewide cuts announced by Gov. Martin O'Malley last week to make up for shortfalls in this year's budget.

The 175 job cuts, which would save the system $12 million, include 24 layoffs and the elimination of 151 open positions, Kirwan said. The system also plans to cut $2 million in maintenance expenses and $3 million in travel expenses, library budgets and computer support. The system will cut less than $1 million in financial aid. The rest of the cuts would come from eliminating university system cash reserves that help support the system's bond rating.

"The cuts include a fair number of adjunct and part-time faculty, and I think that's where the students will see a real impact," Kirwan said. "There won't be as many sections of courses, courses will be harder to get and some will be larger. So it might take some students longer to graduate."

O'Malley is expected to announce an additional $420 million in cuts by Labor Day, and that could lead to further discussion of cuts to the university system in late August.

"I honestly don't know the magnitude of those cuts at this point," Kirwan said. "But if we have to go into more severe reductions, we'd be talking about the possibility of eliminating programs."

Some state leaders have called for an end to O'Malley's tuition freeze. But Kirwan said there are no specific plans to discuss an increase, which could not take effect before the spring semester.

Layoffs at the University of Maryland, College Park are "unavoidable," said Provost Naramin Farvardin, who expects cuts on his campus of more than $30 million before O'Malley is done. Farvardin said he could not give exact numbers because a final plan is probably several months away.

Farvardin said tenured and tenure-track faculty members would keep their jobs. "But no other group is safe," he said. "This is a big, big cut. We've already made all the easy decisions, taken out all the fat."

College Park will have to increase the size of some classes, eliminate others, reduce support for faculty research and financial aid, and cut adjunct faculty members who teach hundreds of undergraduate classes, Farvardin said.

Because further cuts are likely, most of the system's campuses are in wait-and-see mode. Administrators say they won't make new hires because of the uncertainty and are reluctant to announce specific cuts until they know final numbers.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for example, will contribute $3.4 million to the first round of cuts, according to a recent e-mail to the campus from President Freeman Hrabowski. But aside from a continued hiring freeze, he offered few specifics, noting that he wants suggestions from the entire UMBC community and that he might create small work groups to hash out the details of the reductions.

A similar e-mail from College Park President C.D. "Dan" Mote went into greater detail. Mote said a $14.6 million cut would lead to staff reductions and that the university would beef up its summer- and winter-term course offerings in hopes of generating more revenue. Like Hrabowski, he asked for suggestions from all corners and said uncertainty remains because of the looming second round of cuts.

Though the cuts would not reach the system's tenured faculty, the losses of adjunct professors and graduate assistants would have a damaging effect on everyone, said Elise Miller-Hooks, an engineering professor at College Park and chair of the University Senate.

"It would mean more time spent teaching courses and less on research," Miller-Hooks said. "It would hurt the adjuncts the most, but everyone gets hurt."

Miller-Hooks said past cuts have been evenly distributed across departments.

"But what we don't want to see is more of the same, because if we cut again, there are going to be some programs that just can't function," she said. "I hope that we can be creative and find some excesses, because this cut is going to hurt."

Some universities expect their cuts to have less impact.

Towson University plans to cut $2.4 million by restricting travel, continuing a partial hiring freeze and eliminating some open positions. Spokeswoman Marina Cooper said layoffs and salary reductions appear unlikely.

"Hopefully, the students won't see it," she said of the impact. "We're all anticipating a larger cut, so we're trying to begin the behaviors that will get us through it. We don't anticipate having to do anything more drastic at the end of the month."

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