The Daily Californian Online

Chancellor States 200 Positions Will be Cut

By Katie Nelson
Contributing Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Category: News > University > Academics and Administration

With Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's announcement Tuesday that some 200 positions will be eliminated starting in January as part of the Operational Excellence initiative, some campus employees are starting to fear for their job security.

In a letter to faculty and staff, Birgeneau said these eliminations will save the campus $20 million annually - roughly one-quarter of the total $75 million the campus is hoping to save through Operational Excellence. Positions will be removed through retirement, attrition, voluntary separation or layoffs.

Birgeneau stated in the letter that the cuts are necessary to maintain UC Berkeley's ranking as the top public university in the country. He added that though the transition for faculty and staff members will be "difficult," staff "will continue to have opportunities for career growth."

Due to the changes, some employees in each of the targeted 27 campus units could be given different jobs or supervisors, or they could become "individual contributors" - employees who are not managed by any one department or person.

"We are committed to treating all of our employees with dignity, respect and fairness while recognizing that in the end, we will have fewer administrative positions on campus," Birgeneau wrote.

Rather than having administrators instruct individual departments on how to simplify organizational structures, the heads of each individual department will be asked to consolidate positions in a way that makes the most organizational sense for each unit, according to Fiona Doyle, chair of the campus division of the Academic Senate. Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor for communications, said departments must submit design plans by Nov. 1.

"It's not like everything will line up as each unit will take its own path," Holmes said.

Nancy Kato, an assistant registrar at Berkeley Law School, said the letter only leads her to wonder how many more cuts the campus can handle and that employees are beginning to become "worried."

"I have a co-worker who works at the center with me who fears for her job because she is at the lowest rung of employment," she said.

Kato said that when the campus began cut last year, many custodians chose to retire early rather than be laid off.

"They saw the writing on the wall," she said. "Offering the option of 'retirement' is just a time-tested way for the campus to emphasize that employees made the choice to leave rather than (the campus) saying that they laid off so many people."

However, Holmes said there will be no early retirement buyout package, as retirement is a "personal decision," though it could be part of planning processes that occur in the future.

Holmes added that layoffs will hopefully be a last resort.

"This isn't about keeping faculty happy," she said. "We want to approve services, and we want to make sure we're as administratively excellent as we are academically."

Kato said she is uncertain how evenly cuts will be distributed.

"It's the million dollar question - why don't they cut from the top instead of repeatedly cutting from the bottom?" she said.

Alisha Azevedo of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

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