Cost-cutting measures will result in some NAU layoffs

‘6 plus 6 option’

President John Haeger has approved a contract approach for FY10 that will change 12-month contracts for administrators and service professionals to six-month contracts with another six-month renewal period to round out the fiscal year.

This “6 plus 6 option” would allow NAU more flexibility to respond to its uncertain and frequently changing budget situation while preserving a greater period of certainty for the affected employees, Haeger explained.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved a policy exception that would allow Arizona universities to non-renew contracts for administrators and service professionals with a 90-day notice no matter when their contracts end. However, Haeger said the university does not intend to use the new procedure, which will be effective through FY2011.

The 6 plus 6 option, Haeger explained, allows a little more security to employees as opposed to a rolling 90-day notification.

Furlough provisions also will be added to contracts, which are expected to be issued in June.

Northern Arizona University President John Haeger announced today several cost-cutting measures on campus and at Distance Learning sites that will result in about 45 layoffs in Flagstaff and statewide.

“We have been working hard to minimize the number of layoffs, but we cannot escape the reality that 83 percent of our budget goes to salaries and benefits,”
said Haeger. “We have weighed our decisions carefully to cope with a severely constricted budget while protecting our core mission of undergraduate education.”

NAU is dealing with a $21.3 million budget reduction for fiscal year 2009 and a likely worsening budget year in 2010. The reduction in force, along with other changes being implemented by each vice presidential area on campus, are expected to achieve about $13.5 million in budget reductions for fiscal year 2009, which would carry forward into permanent base cuts for fiscal year 2010. The
$7.8 million balance will come from other institutional resources.

The budget reduction strategies of the Academic Affairs division will be announced separately, around mid-April, as it is working with a different timeframe related to developing the fall 2009 schedule of classes.

So far, the budget reduction plans include adopting improved technology, consolidating functions and eliminating some services. The reductions come from Information Technology Services, Research, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Administration and Finance, Distance Learning, Advancement, Institutional Effectiveness and the President’s Office, including Athletics.

The two areas with the largest number of personnel changes are Distance Learning and Enrollment Management.

Distance Learning will be shifting from its 30-year-old videoconferencing and interactive television system to new web-based technology, which will result in the elimination of ITV staff.  Four low-enrollment NAU sites will close in Nogales, Payson, Globe and Holbrook, and an office in Avondale will be closed. No layoffs
will result from these closures, but the savings will be nearly $140,000 a year.

Seven of the Distance Learning layoffs are in Flagstaff while another 16 are in sites across the state.

Enrollment Management will see a reduction in force of 14 in several areas. One cost-cutting measure is the closure of the pharmacy in the Fronske Health Center. Students and staff who use the pharmacy can find the same—or increased—services at several nearby locations.

In addition to the reduction in personnel, the university is issuing about 10 contract reductions and partial layoffs in which the amount of time employees work, and their salary, is reduced.

While the reduction in force announced today represents the majority of personnel actions to be undertaken this fiscal year, some additional layoffs likely will occur.

Haeger said that it is important to note that NAU is not reaching its budgetary goals solely by cutting personnel. “We have instituted several other cost-saving measures as well, which helped us minimize the number of layoffs and non-renewals,” he said.

More than 100 positions have been left vacant this past year as the result of a hiring freeze. Computer labs in residence halls are being closed, and new software and hardware licensing and support costs are being delayed. The university also stopped development of its new occupational therapy and physician’s assistant programs. In addition, the university is implementing a university-wide furlough program in fiscal year 2010.

At the same time, revenue-generating strategies also are being considered, such as a “judicial fee” for students involved in conduct cases. The university also is measuring the impact of federal stimulus dollars, although Haeger cautioned it is “highly unlikely that those funds will ever make NAU’s budget whole again.”

Athletics received a $425,000 cut from its state budget, and is partly handling its cut through revenue enhancements, including a new football game against the University of Mississippi that will earn the program about $400,000 before expenses are subtracted.

NAU Human Resources provides a variety of services to individuals affected by layoffs or non-renewals as well as information on furloughs.

“Our next step is to prepare for next year’s budget,” Haeger said. “We are assessing all possibilities and anticipate working closely with the Arizona Board of Regents, legislative leaders and the governor to arrive at a budget that will allow us—and the state—to deal with the recession and still move forward.”