Budget concerns influence personnel

By Campus Editor & Editor-in-Chief

Convocation 2014

In an effort to reduce a potential budget shortfall, seven full-time and three part-time staff members from several departments were terminated Aug. 21–25, according to an emailed statement from Steve Kauffman, senior director of public relations.

The terminations are the latest in a slew of employment changes at the college which have included hires and departures from the top administration at the college.

In a statement released to The Chronicle on Aug. 25, Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost, said the staff reductions were in reaction to an analysis on how to best utilize student tuition dollars.

“While it is always difficult to lose personnel, after a careful review of operations across the college, it was evident a modest realignment would enhance efficiencies which in turn enables the college to better serve our students,” Wearden said in the statement.

President Kwang-Wu Kim also said the staff reductions are part of the college’s ongoing effort to be fiscally efficient. He said the college is  focusing on using its resources responsibly, which is influencing how the college is assessing its expenditures and employment decisions.

“Some of this is about right sizing and some of it is about bringing new experience and new skill,” Kim said. “It’s really a combination of those two directions that characterize all of the various personnel things that are going on at Columbia.”

The United Staff of Columbia College, the college’s staff union, released an Aug. 28 statement to

The Chronicle announcing that the union had been informed that the cuts were a result of budget concerns. The union has had several meetings with the college since Aug. 28 to discuss these layoffs.

“The union expressed concerns that the cuts—once again—predominately impact Columbia staff members, and that the union is not aware of any effort by the Columbia administration to chop from the top—that is, to start the budget cutting by eliminating high-end administrative and academic positions,” the statement read.

The union plans to request a meeting with Kim to discuss concerns about possible staff eliminations in the future, according to the statement. The statement also said that the union wants to see more reductions on the administrative level to balance out the number of layoffs throughout the college.

In other employment news, Mark Kelly, previously known as the vice president of Student Affairs, will now serve as the vice president of Student Success. Kelly said although his title has changed, the purpose of his department remains the same.

Kelly said his new responsibilities include collaborating more with administrators, faculty and staff to ensure students are graduating on time. He will continue to oversee events such as Manifest and the Wabash Arts Corridor Crawl despite his new role carrying more responsibility.

“It’s very exciting because now [my position] is about partnerships that make sure our students succeed, grow, graduate and are employed,” Kelly said. “Student Success [entails] more of a college-wide commitment.”

The summer break saw the successful conclusion of several administrative searches throughout the college, including the appointment of Michelle Gates as the college’s chief financial officer and Jon Stern as the vice president of Development. Kim said he is confident with his new cabinet in place and their ability to raise funds.

“As I start to bring in people with this level of skill and experience, I can really turn over all of these pieces directly to them, so that I can be focused on the next stage of my work for Columbia,” Kim said.

Two high-ranking administrators also departed from the college during the summer months. Diane Doyne, associate vice president of Marketing and Communications, resigned from her position July 17, and Warren Chapman, senior vice president, left the college July 31.

Chapman recently served as the interim vice president of Development while the college conducted a national search and restructured the now-defunct office of Institutional Advancement into the department of Development, the office dedicated to fundraising.

The college’s ability to fundraise was hampered by the Jan. 15 departure of Patrick Sheahan, former vice president of Institutional Advancement, four months after his appointment and the Feb. 28 staff reductions of more than half of the office’s employees.

Doyne’s responsibilities included overseeing the college’s communications practices and taking part in the college’s 2013 research-based image campaign that spawned the slogans “Live What You Love” and “Create Your Career,” both of which were featured in various college recruitment advertisements displayed across Chicago.

Doyne’s departure was preceded by the July 7 announcement that Anne-Marie St. Germaine would serve as interim vice president of Marketing and Communications, a position only distinguished from Doyne’s by the lack of an associate designation, while the college conducts a national search to fill the position.

St. Germaine is currently the managing director of Resolute Consulting, a firm with which Columbia has a prior relationship. As reported May 12 by The Chronicle, Resolute Consulting, along with Huron Consulting Group Inc., are in the midst of examining the college’s communication and business practices.

Robert Koverman, associate vice president of Safety and Security, also announced his intent to retire at the end of January 2015.

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