The planned layoff of between 30 and 70 full-time employees at Skidmore College has been canceled because of an improved financial outlook, college officials said Monday.
Healthy growth in the college’s endowment over the past year is among several positive economic factors announced by college officials,
After the stock market crashed in 2008, the college’s endowment dropped from nearly $300 million to $220 million.
But through 2009 the endowment has grown back to $270 million.
College officials also cited an increase in donations to the college’s annual fund, a strategic hiring freeze, a voluntary early retirement incentive and a collegewide salary freeze as reasons why there will be no staff layoffs.
The layoffs, which were announced last fall, were expected to start this month.
“These and other factors — including the absence of a general salary adjustment for two years and the cost-containment efforts of the entire Skidmore community — have combined to create a stronger financial outlook for the college than we could reasonably have predicted even six months ago,” said college President Philip A. Glotzbach in a written statement.
Michael Casey, the college’s vice president for advancement, said between the hiring freeze and a larger than expected number of employees taking the one-time retirement incentive, the staff has been reduced by 55 full-time positions.
Casey said the college went from having almost 900 employees to having about 850.
“It is very good news,” Casey said about the non-layoff announcement.
Glotzbach said the college needed to achieve a $3.25 million reduction in its continuing expenses. Last fall this looked impossible without some layoffs.
He said the college’s endowment went from a low of $220 million in 2008 back up to $270 million on Dec. 31, 2009.
“This represents a significant recovery in the college’s investment assets,” Glotzbach said. He praised the college’s investment committee, which he said helped the college achieve an endowment performance that was above average among colleges and universities.
David Domozych, a long-time biology professor at the college, said Monday’s announcement that there would be no layoffs “was a very positive step.”
Domozych noted that the layoffs would have affected only support staff and not faculty members but was good news nonetheless.
“It’s a good indication that the economy is getting better,” Domozych said.
He said he was happy that Skidmore College was reacting to the changes so rapidly.
He said the “big surprise” to him was that the college’s endowment has recovered so quickly after the difficult economic times in 2008.
Glotzbach did mention Monday that changes must still be made in the college’s workforce. He said the strategic hiring freeze would remain in effect for at least another year, and the college will continue to limit the use of part-time and temporary employees.
“Furthermore, some positions will be restructured and others will have their hours reduced,” Glotzbach said.
“These measures will place additional demands on other employees, and the entire community will experience some discomfort as services we came to expect in the past are reduced or eliminated,” he said in a statement.