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Published: Wednesday, 4/21/2010

UT proposes layoffs, raises

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo plans to increase tuition and give raises to most workers, in addition to laying off 36 employees, under a budget the board of trustees is expected to approve next month.

Some of the raises were required by terms of union contracts, but others were proposed despite difficult economic times and the specter of the school losing as much as $20 million in fiscal year 2012 as federal stimulus money and Ohio rainy-day funds dry up.

UT's annual operating budget is about $750 million.

The layoffs announced late last week will save about $2 million annually, but the salary increases will cost about $10.5 million, the university said. Eliminating or adjusting raises could save the jobs.

"That could be questioned, but we just thought the trade-off of being able to compensate these groups of employees was more important than other difficult choices," said Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration. "There were some difficult decisions along the way. But in the end, we feel like we have a good budget."

Clinical employees with the university's medical center will receive 1 percent raises across the board. Nonclinical union members and nonunion faculty will receive 3 percent raises, and the rest will receive them on a progressive scale. Those making less than $80,000 will get 2 percent, and those making more will not receive a raise.

"It was just recognizing the fact that lower-income employees are having a harder time paying their bills," Mr. Scarborough said.

The administration began the budget-making process $13 million in the hole and had to identify cuts to balance the budget, which takes effect July 1.

Like last year's effort, the budget proposal reflects a desire to protect academics at the expense of other areas, Mr. Scarborough said.

In that vein, no faculty members are being laid off, and a $5 million fund will be created to hire faculty in some departments that need personnel to maintain accreditation requirements, such as in the college of law and the undergraduate and graduate business schools, he said.

The fund is designed to hire academic superstars and heavyweights to help the prospering departments gain national recognition, he said. Those include departments tied to rising technologies and fields of study, including solar energy, research into biomarkers, and logistics and distribution.

The raises and other increases will be covered, in part, by students, whose tuition and general fee increases start in the fall. The increases will add about $11.5 million to the budget.

For undergraduate in-state and out-of-state students, it equals a 3.5 percent increase. For an in-state student that's a raise to $4,245.66 a semester from $4,102.08. Some graduate tuition will rise by as much as 5 percent.

Krystalyn Weaver, outgoing president of UT's student body and a graduating senior, said the tuition hikes and the layoffs are "painful."

She said the fees for her UT pharmacy program, which she starts next year, will go up by about $600.

"But to be honest, I think they did the best they could under the circumstances. I've been in the discussion since the beginning. There are individual situations that are very painful," she said.

"Our [nonunion] employees making less than $80,000 a year haven't had a raise in years. I'm assuming they don't want our employees to be living under the market rate because that'll start to affect retention," Ms. Weaver said.



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