Harrison: No Layoffs Expected in 2011

During this year’s annual Faculty Staff Kickoff, President Harrison expressed optimism with the financial success of the school for the upcoming year, despite a major cut in the budget. Over the summer, the University was forced to layoff 11 staff members and eliminate some 30 vacant jobs due to the extended amount of financial aid given out to help students in this period of recession. Due to this, however, Harrison said, “I do not see any further layoffs necessary.” He expresses that increase in financial aid to be “almost solely responsible for why we had to cut $5.2 million from the rest of our university budget of $210 million. However, with the tuition discount rate for this year expected to be less than the last, and so much extra money being given to deserving students, the campus community seems to be benefiting. Harrison made it clear that his biggest concern is how the budget and economic conditions will affect “the families of our students or potential students and the decisions they have to make about higher education.” The president also pointed out that there are many risks involved when it comes to the budget for the upcoming year, and in an economic recession such as this he says “the key word for me in all this is uncertainty.” An increase in the university’s healthcare cost, the need for the dam across the Hog River to be replaced shortly, and the $3.5 million deficit the state faces are the three main obstacles the university will have to overcome to reduce that uncertainty. “This year we will have to do more with less than we have in the past,” said Harrison. Despite this, he expressed optimism for the upcoming year. Plans are in the works for a major fundraising initiative that will take place this year and hopefully aid in budgeting greatly. Last year marked the completion of new strategic and facilities plans, which are now under way, and are paving the way for the fundraising plan to go into effect. “We are entering the new year in a strong position to thrive in the future,” said Harrison, who plans to devote much of his time to fundraising this year, and promises updates on the progress over the course of the year.

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