Columbia staff cuts ‘needed’

By Samuel Charles

The unforgiving economic climate has forced many businesses and organizations to shrink their staff in order to remain efficient and profitable. Columbia showed its susceptibility to market change on Feb. 28 when it announced there would be immediate cuts to the school’s 2,800-person staff.

Twenty-three people were relieved of their positions. The announcement came in an e-mail to college employees from Vice President of Human Resources Ellen Krutz. The reductions in staff were made in the Office of Business Affairs, the Office of the President and the Office of Institutional Advancement.

“There were 23 people in positions that were eliminated,” Krutz said. “There were a number of other positions that were either moved, combined or didn’t have a person in them. The number—23—is the number of people who were in jobs that no longer exist.”

Diane Doyne, associate vice president of public relations, marketing and advertising, issued a statement on the college’s behalf saying that while the cuts were difficult to make, they were for the greater good

of Columbia.

“Like any responsible institution, we continuously look for ways to improve efficiencies and optimize resources,” the statement read. “These staffing changes were made only after very careful consideration and review of operations. We are confident these decisions will enable the college to advance our mission and provide students an outstanding, comprehensive education.”

Doyne did not disclose how much money the college will save as a result of the cuts. Illinois’ income per capita in 2009 was $41,904. Based on that, Columbia may be saving more than $963,000 per year.

Ann Kennedy, director of business systems and applications in the Controller’s Office in Business Affairs, saw four people in her office relieved of their positions.

“The college needs to do what’s best for the institution,” Kennedy said. “We’ll have to do more work for sure.”

Krutz said people in higher management positions should constantly be looking to improve efficiency.

Vice presidents from across the college came together to make the cuts, Krutz said. They evaluated different aspects of their areas and decided what positions weren’t necessary or could be improved.

“Each division was asked to look at operations,” Krutz added. “The process was to look at what they’re responsible for doing, how their work gets done, what are the tasks associated with getting that work done and which employees are best suited to get that work done. That led to some positions being eliminated.”

The United Staff of Columbia College submitted an urgent request to bargain with the college regarding the impact of these job changes.

The US of CC has also requested detailed information from Columbia’s Human Resources department regarding the extent of the staff reductions and job restructuring, and the exact reasons why the administration deems these changes necessary.

The cuts were announced the day after Columbia hosted its eighth annual Os-cars viewing party at the House of Blues Los Angeles. A similar evening would cost approximately $23,491, according to the House of Blues’ pricing scale.

Krutz’s e-mail assured the Columbia community the cuts were necessary.

“After careful consideration and review, the college’s administration concluded staffing changes were necessary to better align operations with resources,” the statement read. “Please be assured these difficult but important actions were needed.”