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BUDGET SHORTFALL

Lourdes planning layoffs, pay cuts

$1M deficit blamed on enrollment dip

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The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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Lourdes University officials have confirmed that up to eight administrative staff members will be laid off, and salary cuts across the board will be made to stay on budget for the 2014 school year. The budget for this school year is $31 million.

“The board wanted to make sure that we brought in a balanced budget, and we experienced some decreased enrollment like other schools in northwest Ohio,” Interim President Janet Robinson said.

The board of trustees in April approved a three-pronged financial plan for the 2013-2014 budget that would make up for a $1 million deficit mainly caused by lost revenue from decreased enrollment.

This spring saw a 5 percent decrease in enrollment over last year: 2,276 students, compared with 2,409 last spring.

Amy Mergen, dean of enrollment, said cuts and changes to federal aid such as the Pell grant may have contributed to the decrease. More than 250 students in the fall were affected by the the change in the way the Pell Grant was awarded, she said.

The fall, 2014, projected enrollment is 2,358 students.

The budget plan includes offering employees a voluntary separation package, which 17 employees — a mix of faculty and staff, some of retirement age — have agreed to take. About half those positions will be replaced. The voluntary separation program, Mrs. Robinson said, offers employees one to four months’ salary and health-care benefits depending on the years of service.

Mrs. Robinson said the administration wanted to approach budget shortfalls in a way that upheld the university’s sense of community and reverence. “Some of those people are heroes that decided to step aside,” she said.

In addition, beginning July 1, faculty and staff will incur a 1 percent reduction in salary, and the administration will take a 3 percent reduction.

The university scaled back operational expenses to deal with a $1.5 million budget shortfall this year. Cuts were made in conference travel, printing and postage, and other expenses that did not affect academics or student life.

Mrs. Robinson sent 176 staff and 100 faculty members a letter last week notifying them of the upcoming layoffs and budget cuts. She said no one had been laid off yet, but she expected to cut six to eight administrative staff positions or academic support staff. No faculty will be affected, she said.

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