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Breaking: More than 100 staff would lose their jobs in administrative cuts 

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File Photo

More than 100 staff will potentially lose their jobs across Columbia’s administrative units, including in Student Affairs, according to members of the President’s Budget Advisory Board who were detailed on the proposed cuts on Tuesday, March 19. 

Although the president outlined cuts to academic units in his draft advisory report, few details had been released about promised cost-savings made by the administration. 

The biggest of the proposed personnel cuts are to Student Affairs, Business Affairs and the provost’s office. 

Business Affairs would lose five union employees and 16 non-union employees. In the provost’s office, under the preliminary cuts, 18 union employees would lose their jobs, and five non-union employees would be laid off, according to people at the meeting.

The fewest proposed personnel cuts are to the legal office and strategic communication. No personnel cuts are planned for the Campus Safety Department. 

In a presidential forum in February, Kim said he would ask all of the vice presidential units at the college to cut 30% from their budgets. He reiterated at the budget group meeting that this was “an exercise,” according to people who were there. Some units may not be able to cut that much.  The cuts also would not just impact personnel. Offices and departments could reduce other expenses to get to 30%.

“I am deeply troubled by the significant staff cuts proposed by the committee,” said Craig Sigele, president of the USofCC union. “The administration has clearly not yet reached its final decision, and considering the significant impact these layoffs will have, we insist on further dialogue.” 

Sigele is not on the advisory board, which also includes part-time faculty representatives, full-time faculty, a department chair and others.

The board, which met in the Student Center, divided into groups that took turns asking questions of various administrators, according to people who were present.

Allison Geller, enrollment operations assistant in the Enrollment Management Department who attended the meeting, said the administrators handled questions differently, with some providing data behind the cuts, while others said “we can’t” provide more information “and then did not continue.”

“Student affairs and the provost’s office are two areas where we did not get detailed info regarding their plans for staff cuts,” they said, adding that within Business Affairs, “two different departments shared that they could not make the proposed cuts work.”

But Geller said they were pleased that there seemed to be an opportunity to give feedback to both administrators and individual departments. 

The specific personnel cuts could change in the coming weeks as the president’s report is finalized.

Sigele, who is the academic manager for the Communication Department, said more than one meeting will be required

“As the group who will be most affected, we, the union staff, demand a continued seat at the table to have our voices heard on any decisions regarding staff and non-academic program reductions that will directly impact us and the work we do for students. The conversation is not over.” 

Tyler Harding, Student Government Association president, attended the meeting as the student representative on the board. 

He said his job is to advocate for students.

Student Financial Services and Admissions are both targeted for substantial employee cuts.  Enrollment Management, which currently has no top administrator after the departure of Senior Vice President Michael Joseph, could lose 21 union employees and four non-union employees. Student Affairs could lose 14 union employees and six non-union employees. 

“Today’s meeting was very productive and demonstrated that the entire Columbia community can come together to work on addressing this budgetary crisis,” Harding said. “My role in the meeting was asking the question “How will this affect students?” and sharing my concerns if I felt that a particular cut could potentially hurt the student experience.” 

Copy edited by Vanessa Orozco

 

This story has been updated. 

 

Spanish digest 

Más de 100 empleados administrativos podrían perder sus trabajos en diversas unidades de Columbia, incluyendo Asuntos Estudiantiles, según miembros de la Junta Asesora que fueron informados sobre los recortes propuestos el martes 19 de marzo.

Los mayores recortes de personal propuestos serían en Asuntos Estudiantiles, Administración de Negocios y la oficina del proveedor, con posibles pérdidas de decenas de puestos tanto sindicalizados como no sindicalizados. 

Estos despidos de personal son solo una parte de la reducción del 30% que Kim pidió en febrero a todas las vicepresidencias para hacer “un ejercicio” de recortes presupuestarios. Algunas oficinas podrían reducir otros gastos para llegar al 30%.

El presidente del sindicato USofCC expresó gran preocupación por los significativos recortes de personal propuestos y exigió más diálogo. Un representante estudiantil en la junta dijo que su papel era abogar por los estudiantes ante posibles afectaciones a su experiencia.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief
ocohen@columbiachronicle.com   Olivia Cohen is a senior journalism major, minoring in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She primarily reports on Columbia's financial health, administration and unions, but has also written about personnel and department changes, COVID-19 policies and abortion. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota