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UMW puts freeze on hiring

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All hiring has been frozen at the University of Mary Washington in anticipation of deep cuts in the state-funded higher education budget.

UMW President Rick Hurley notified faculty and staff of the temporary move to reduce personnel costs Tuesday.

There are currently 23 open positions at the Fredericksburg university.

Among the positions the university had advertised to fill are two jobs in the college of business, and positions in the police department, alumni relations and the center for international education and advancement. The department of disability resources is seeking a director.

About a week ago, state agency directors, including college presidents, met with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his staff. The governor outlined the state’s revenue shortfall.

Then, across the board cuts were announced Friday. These cuts exclude higher education budgets, but targeted cuts for these institutions are coming in the next week.

The Associated Press reported that McAuliffe is ordering agency heads, excluding higher education, to cut department budgets by 5 percent this fiscal year and 7 percent next year to cope with an $880 million budget shortfall.

Hurley said the additional targeted cuts to higher education should reach universities this Friday.

He said that he wants to take action now before the cuts are announced.

“The position freeze is a prudent step, a temporary step, until we can figure out what to do next,” he said. “The primary cost driver here, at any university, is personnel. It’s the largest category of our budget. That’s why it is so necessary.”

Hurley said he has directed UMW cabinet members to begin discussions with their staffers to find additional budget reductions in their areas.

A review will also decide what positions can be filled after the freeze is lifted, depending on which jobs are necessary to the daily operation of the university.

If a position needs to be immediately filled, hiring managers will need to get approval from their corresponding vice president.

Hurley said he is unable to say how long the freeze will last until after he, and other college presidents, receive guidance from the state.

The UMW board of visitors unanimously approved a preliminary $112 million budget in May, along with a 6 percent increase in tuition.

The budget relied on a few assumptions about how the General Assembly would vote over the summer on the then-undecided state budget.

The school expected, based on historical norms and the budgets presented by the Senate and the House, which both included additional funds for higher education, salary increases and support for new programs and buildings.

However, officials at UMW were again running numbers and searching budget line items for savings in July after its state funding came in $1.5 million less than expected.

Case-by-case hiring freezes were considered then.

The school also recently released a “strategic reallocation report,” a document, in the works since 2012, that evaluates programs and recommends which ones could be cut and which should be invested in.

Hurley said the school is taking no action on the report’s findings until it receives input from the university community.

Public hearing dates for the report will be announced soon.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

GERMANNA CONSIDERS BUDGET SHORTFALL

Germanna Community College, also a state-funded higher education institution, is considering its own budget with the looming higher education cuts.

For President David Sam, the cuts aren’t anything new.

He said higher education funds have dwindled over the past 20 years and, as a rule, Germanna budgets conservatively.

Germanna’s current operating budget is about $30 million.

In expectation of cuts or an enrollment shortfall, Sam and staff budgeted $500,000 in an emergency fund for the academic year.

He said he could scrape together funds to cover a 4 percent cut, but after that there’s not much left to trim.

He said Germanna has not staffed as aggressively as its growth would allow to ensure low personnel costs, so there aren’t many open positions to freeze.

“Once we know the details of the targeted cuts, we’ll let staff know,” Sam said. “We have asked them to look for opportunities to save money.”

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