Five divisions at the University of Wyoming will bear the brunt of 37 staff layoffs occurring throughout the week as the final part of a $10 million permanent reduction plan for fiscal year 2018. So far, UW has eliminated 332 positions, almost entirely by eliminating vacant positions and offering separation incentive packages to tenured faculty. These layoffs will bring the total to 369.
“These layoffs are an unfortunate but necessary step for the university to meet its required reductions,” UW President Laurie Nichols says in a news release detailing the layoffs.
The Office of Information Technology will eliminate 15 positions, while the Office of Academic Affairs will eliminate 12.
Administration will eliminate five positions, Student Affairs will eliminate three and the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs will eliminate one.
Additionally, the university will lay off one at-large employee.
The eliminations will save the university $3.02 million in fiscal year 2018, about half of the $5.91 million in reductions allocated to specific divisions.
The Office of Information Technology’s large share of the layoffs is because of a consolidation effort recommended by Huron Consulting Group, which looks to bring the various IT functions of the university under one — more efficient — roof, said Chad Baldwin, UW director of institutional communications.
“We have had the central IT unit, of course, that provides service to people across campus, but then in addition to that, there have been IT people scattered out among the various units who aren’t part of the IT department,” Baldwin said. “And what you’re seeing here, reflected in these layoffs is basically the achievement of those efficiencies.”
Layoffs in all the affected divisions will be challenging for the staff who remain, said Rachel Stevens, data and communications manager for the School of Pharmacy and staff senate vice president.
“For some time, there’s been some limited information about the coming layoffs on campus,” she said. “And so, of course, staff have been concerned and anxious about where those are occurring.”
Stevens said these layoffs will compound the difficulties faced by divisions who already saw losses during the vacancy eliminations.
“In some units, there have been intentional reorganizations where the staff members and supervisors are sitting down and talking about what the duties are and how to reassign them in a way that makes sense,” Stevens said. “But in many cases, that’s not happening.”
And while the Office of Information Technology has known of its 15 layoffs for some time, Stevens said many staff were upset by a lack of transparency or shared details.
“The plans that were presented from Academic Affairs didn’t give much information as to which colleges were going to be including staff layoffs in their budget reductions,” Stevens said. “So, that’s where there was a real lack of clarity.”
Baldwin said the process was as public as it could be — with information shared by the fiscal crisis committee and by the Board of Trustees — while respecting the privacy of the employees being eliminated.
“To have described those specific jobs in a public setting before today would have been unfair to those individuals,” he said.
Baldwin said the president was confident the divisions affected by these layoffs would be able to absorb the responsibilities previously performed by eliminated staff.
“That confidence stems from the fact that these recommendations came from those managers themselves who know their units probably better than anybody,” he said.