SLU lays off 61

Last week, 61 employees of Saint Louis University, a little more
than 1 percent of the University’s workforce, received a notice
that they were being laid-off.

The layoffs, most of which occurred in the School of Medicine,
were a result of the University’s need to cut $9.1 million from the
budget.

Of the jobs lost, 37 were in the School of Medicine, while the
other 24 came from 14 other University departments.

The positions included everyone from managers to hourly staff,
said Kathy Hagedorn, vice president of Human Resources.

“All vice presidents and deans were asked to reduce their
budgets to ensure that our operating expenses do not exceed our
revenues next year,” Hagedorn said. “Some departments were able to
do this through reductions in operating expenses, or by eliminating
vacant positions.”

According to Hagedorn, the reductions in force (RIF), as well as
other measures taken by departments, allow the University to
balance the budget for next year, without having to increase
tuition. SLU does not plan on having another RIF in the near future
that is similar to the one that occurred last week, Hagedorn
said.

“It is certainly not an experience that any of us want to go
through again,” Hagedorn said. “We have asked departments to
continue to look at ways to be more efficient, streamline processes
and reduce costs. It is possible those efforts during the next year
could result in a handful of people losing their jobs, but the
focus will be more on improving processes and eliminating
bureaucracy, than in reducing people.”

Six of the eliminated staff positions were in academic areas
other than the School of Medicine, according to Provost Joe
Weixlmann, Ph.D. All positions were secretaries or office
assistants.

“Deans and vice presidents carefully reviewed their reductions
to have the least impact on the academic experience for our
students at Saint Louis University,” Hagedorn said.

“We really believe that students will not see a difference in
the classroom or in the quality of their education from these
reductions.”

Employees affected by the layoffs have been offered job
counseling this week, as well as severance pay based on their
number of years at SLU.

“Clearly, no one is happy about people losing their jobs: the
employees, their co-workers or the managers,” Hagedorn said. “These
efforts are focused at helping people secure other employment
before their severance and vacation pay from SLU runs out.”

In addition, the Employee Assistance Program has been made
available to employees and managers who would like to speak with a
counselor.

Ruth Williams, a receptionist in the Department of Counseling
and Family Therapy, was one of those laid-off. She would have
worked for the University for 10 years in August.

The mother of three was told about her termination around noon
last Thursday, when the department chair told her that they had
eliminated her position.

“I think we should have had a fair warning,” Williams said. “At
first I was shocked. You go through all kinds of emotions. I
haven’t done this (looked for a job) in 10 years.”

Williams said she has taken advantage of the consulting firm
that the University has set up to assist with job counseling. She
is currently in the process of filling out applications.

According to Williams, there is a rumor that Washington
University is willing to hire some of those laid-off by SLU.

Regarding members of her department, Williams said, “I don’t
really have any hard feelings, especially for Jim (Pettinelli,
Ph.D.) and Mary (Schmelter).” She added, “I just think it could
have been done in a better way.”

“I think we all feel that the loss of her job will be a loss to
students and clients as well,” said one member of the department
who wished to remain anonymous. “She will be missed.”

The department is currently choosing to ask students to fill the
receptionist position as volunteers.

Due to the process in which the budget is determined, the need
to reduce budgets was known as early as September 2003.

At this time, the administration began holding meetings with the
Faculty Senate and Staff Advisory Committee to discuss the FY05
budget.

According to Hagedorn, departments have done little hiring since
then, which has helped to keep down the number of layoffs.