University administrators have completed the process of identifying $11.6 million in budget reductions to the University of Oregon’s education and general fund.
President Michael H. Schill asked university leaders to make cuts to close a budget gap created by increasing costs due primarily to state-mandated PERS increases, contractually obligated salary and benefit increases, and a drop in international enrollment. The goal was to reduce the impact on current personnel as much as possible, a goal achieved through attrition and other cost-saving measures.
As part of the reductions, Schill identified areas that the provost and vice presidents should shield from reductions to every extent possible. This included programs focused on student success, public safety, revenue generation and the UO’s core mission of academics and research. While a hiring freeze was not ordered, Schill did urge managers to try to preserve people’s positions by not filling vacancies, if possible.
Twenty individuals received notice that their positions will be eliminated and seven people received notice of reassignment or reduction in hours for a total of 27 affected people. Seventeen additional positions were eliminated by vacancies not being filled.
In addition, the university anticipates hiring approximately 10 fewer new, tenure-track faculty members and 25 fewer new graduate employees next year. Units also identified ways to save money by reducing program costs or delaying purchasing, and through other efficiencies.
Some units will have one to two additional years to implement cuts as part of this reduction. Those cuts are expected to be identified over the course of the next two years.
“It is never easy to make budget cuts. We know that this reduction is very hard on the people impacted and those who work with them,” said Jamie Moffitt, chief financial officer and vice president for finance and administration. “We are grateful to these employees for their service to the university. We are also thankful that we were able to limit the number of reductions by not filling vacancies, knowing that this still affects our work on campus.”
The Office of Human Resources is providing information to any affected employees about career transition support and the employee assistance program. Officers of administration will also receive information about the OA reemployment pool, which allows hiring managers to directly appoint people in the pool to open positions. Hiring managers have been encouraged to utilize the OA reemployment pool.
HR will be working closely with units and Service Employee International Union employees to navigate layoff rights in the weeks ahead.
The employee assistance program can also serve as a helpful resource for all benefit-eligible employees as they cope with changes to their job or within their unit. Cascade Centers Inc., the university’s assistance program provider, offers free and confidential counseling and support services to address personal needs.
HR has also arranged for Cascade Centers to be on campus on through July 9 to offer transition support to affected employees. More information is available on the HR website career transitions page.
The UO receives most of its educational funding through tuition. It also receives a small percentage of funding from the state of Oregon, which approved funding to public universities prior to adjourning for the 2019 session.
Moving forward, the UO will continue to pursue a growth strategy that seeks to stabilize budget swings by carefully and modestly increasing undergraduate enrollment over the next few years, Moffitt said.
“University leadership, faculty and staff members, students and advocates will continue to forcefully make the case for better funding to the Oregon Legislature in Salem,” Moffitt said. “The UO will continue to leverage donor support to invest in academic initiatives — such as the Knight Campus, the Presidential Science Initiative and the humanities fellowship program — that expand and strengthen our world-class academic and research programs. By working together, the UO can come out of this budget challenge with a clear focus on our shared future."