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Published: Thursday, 4/30/2009

200 students protest UT's layoff plans

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

University of Toledo students are concerned that the recently announced layoffs will ruin their campus experience.

About 200 students gathered for a protest yesterday morning and attended a staff meeting of the Division of Student Affairs to show their concern about the layoffs of six people in that department who work closely with students.

"We understand the economic crisis we're in and cuts have to be made. What we're protesting is the method in which the decisions were made," said Krystal Weaver, president of the Undergraduate Student Government and a student trustee on the UT Board of Trustees. "The individuals cut from student affairs are those that work directly with us."

During an otherwise silent protest, Ms. Weaver spoke at the staff meeting to let officials know why students were there.

Ms. Weaver, 21, who is a junior pharmacy student, said it will be nearly impossible for students to do some of their extracurricular activities and event planning without the advisers who are among those to be laid off.

The university announced its plans Tuesday to lay off about 90 employees as it tries to close a $16 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

Besides the protest, there is a movement via Facebook groups for current students and alumni to write letters to UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs and others about the layoffs.

Charlene Dangler, 21, a junior studying accounting and finance, wrote a letter to Dr. Jacobs.

She said as a resident adviser in The Crossings residence hall and a sorority member of Alpha Xi Delta, the student affairs employees are important to her.

"With the elimination of these positions, we're not going to have the leadership we need as advisers to go talk to them if we have a problem or questions," she said. "I'm afraid all our organizations are going to fall apart at the seams if we don't have these people to look up to."

Ms. Dangler wrote the letter in the hopes the administration will see the impact these people have on students and might find another way to cut costs.

Some of the letters have been critical of Kaye Patten Wallace, UT's vice president for student affairs, regarding her decisions on which staff members should be laid off.

"One of the things we kept in mind was the fact we are committed to continuing the support and services students deserve and are used to," Ms. Patten Wallace said.

She said the department will be restructured to continue to provide the services it does now, but with fewer staff. There are about 100 employees in the department.

Because of the individuals being laid off, some students were concerned that the Office of Student Involvement would close. That is not the case and people will be moved around to fulfill those duties, said Michelle Martinez, interim dean of students.

"There will be new faces in the fall, but the work will continue," she said. "The office is not being eliminated."

The student affairs department is responsible for everything outside the classroom experience, including housing, recreation, and counseling. The student involvement office specifically includes Greek life, student activities, and leadership programs.

More information also is being released about the roles of those being laid off.

The total number is flexible. When it was announced, Dr. Jacobs said it would be about 100 employees but information later showed 87 employees.

The university yesterday released a listing by department of the cuts that total 89 people.

There are 27 cuts at the UT Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio Hospital, and 14 others on the health science campus.

The layoffs at the main campus are spread across departments and include seven in athletics, six in facilities, and five in information technology, among others.

The layoffs of occupied positions are expected to save UT $5.4 million, said Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration.

Those layoffs and the elimination of 200 vacant positions are in an effort to close a $16 million deficit for fiscal year 2010.

The deficit is a combination of many inflationary costs because of the economy, and while the university anticipates a bump of about $6 million from the state and an increase in enrollment, the revenue increases were not enough to offset the expenses, Mr. Scarborough said.

Without those revenue increases, UT might be looking to cut $20 or $21 million instead of $16 million, he said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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