UAlbany cutting 160 jobs to save money

Faced with a $12 million loss in state aid this year, the University at Albany will stop accepting a

Faced with a $12 million loss in state aid this year, the University at Albany will stop accepting admissions in five language arts programs in the spring and is proposing to eliminate 160 full-time positions within two years.

UAlbany spokesman Karl Luntta said the university hopes to reduce the work force through early retirements and voluntary resignations. Layoffs are a last resort, he said.

“The university over the course of time will be making some difficult decisions and will try to do everything possible to avoid involuntary terminations,” Luntta said.

UAlbany President George M. Philip said three-quarters of the proposed staff reductions will occur in the university’s administrative and support units with the remainder in the teaching units. UAlbany has already eliminated 200 positions since 2008, having lost $33 million in state aid over the last three years.

As part of its cost-containment strategy, UAlbany will stop accepting new students in five arts and humanities programs with low enrollment: the classics, French, Italian, Russian and theater. Students currently enrolled in these programs will be able to finish them and obtain a degree, Luntta said. He said current enrollments are 42 in classics, 61 in French, 13 in Italian, 19 in Russian and 49 in theater.

Phil Smith, president of United University Professions, the union representing SUNY professors and other employees, said he is not happy with UAlbany’s proposal to curtail enrollment in the five language arts programs. “That sounds to us that they are moving to eliminate them. They will non-renew or retrench the faculty involved,” he said. “A university can’t be a university unless it has a strong liberal arts program and languages are part of that.”

Smith also said UAlbany’s plan to eliminate 160 jobs is not a done deal. “This is probably two or three years away,” he said. “What the public needs to understand is that this is a public university and there has been no discussion with the public.”

Further, Smith said, the State University of New York system has reserves of $596 million it can tap to close the $12 million revenue gap at UAlbany. “The money is there and it should be used,” he said. “We will bring this to the attention of the [state] Legislature. They need to step up to the plate and make their commitments to keep the state in the State University of New York,” he said.

UAlbany received approximately $93 million in state support and $88.5 million in tuition toward its $555 million budget for 2009-10. The remainder came from grants, foundations and contracts.

Philip said he supports passage of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, which would give college presidents greater funding autonomy over private partnerships and tuition. UAlbany charges $4,970 per year in tuition.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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