The University of California Berkeley is going to cut 500 staff, around 6% of that institution’s non-faculty workforce. Faculty aren’t to be cut. Yes, this is Berkeley, one of the most famous and highly regarded American universities.
Why these cuts now? As I wrote in February, Berkeley is running into financial troubles. As the San Fran Chronicle explains,
The job elimination message comes as the campus is projecting a deficit of $150 million this fiscal year — about 6 percent of its operating budget of $2.5 billion, which campus officials have blamed largely on state allocations that have not kept pace with campus needs. Berkeley’s deficit was $109 million last year and $12 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, campus officials told The Chronicle in February.
Other cuts may be in the offing:
campus sources say that departments have been told to reduce their budgets by 10 percent and can choose how to do so. Employees say they are hopeful that large numbers of layoffs can be avoided by leaving vacant positions unfulfilled or by shrinking programs.
Chancellor Dirks also reminded Berkeley that “academic realignment” is still going on. That might involve faculty cuts, as we anticipated in February.
These cuts have elicited some community anger at where they fall, especially in terms of senior administrator compensation:
The news was greeted with anger by some labor union leaders, who criticized Berkeley and the entire UC for what they say is excessive spending on executive salaries at the expense of lower-paid workers.
“My concern and the public’s concern is that UC Berkeley is going to start cutting the people it can ill afford to lose — the people who clean buildings, who work in food services or health clinics,” said Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents such workers at Berkeley. “There’s a very clear need for those front-line services. But the question is whether there really is a need to hemorrhage resources on executives.”
What a loss to so many people and their families.
We should also note, as per Jeff Selingo, that these cuts come after Berkeley received a Bain report on improving efficiencies.
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