University eliminates 66 positions, saves $2.2M

Amanda Garrett

On Friday, the university eliminated 66 positions, which will save Kent State $2.2 million, said President Carol Cartwright, in a special edition e-zine sent to university faculty and staff.

Thirty-five positions that are currently filled will be eliminated in 90 days, while another 31 positions that are currently vacant are being eliminated, said Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president of Human Resources. Employees were notified of the layoffs Friday, and both classified and unclassified staff were affected, Pizzuto said.

The layoffs were made as a reaction to a projected shortfall of $6.5 million in Kent State’s budget. They were spread throughout the university and were made on the recommendations of executive officers, deans, directors and managers, Pizzuto said.

“They eliminated positions where they felt the workload wasn’t being managed properly,” she said.

The elimination of the positions will save the university $2.2 million, with $1.1 million in savings resulting from the elimination of the vacant positions, Cartwright said. $1.8 million of the personnel cuts will come from the Kent campus operating budget, Cartwright said.

Kent State will provide services for all the employees affected by the cuts, Pizzuto said.

“We plan on providing classes on how to find a job, how to have good job interviewing skills and continued access to e-mail,” she said.

Building maintenance supervisor Lonnie Scarlett said he was surprised when he found out Friday his position was eliminated.

Scarlett, who has worked at Kent State for five and a half years, said he hopes to use his classification status to get a new position at the university, but he is not 100 percent sure how things will work out.

Under the Ohio Revised Code, classified staff with seniority can displace lower ranking employees in a process known as “bumping.” Those employees affected by bumping will then have a period of five days to use their own displacement rights. Because of the length of time involved in bumping rights, the restructuring of staff may not be finished until June.

Other cost-cutting measures include reducing the starting salaries for early retirement faculty by $1.2 million, changing workshop offerings and reassigning administrative time to classroom teaching.

The university also is expecting a $1.5 million increase in income from investment changes made by the Board of Trustees in April.

In the e-zine, Cartwright emphasized recruiting and maintaining students as a part of Kent State’s financial well-being.

“Our financial future rests largely upon the strength of undergraduate enrollment and retention. In recent years, even as state support has eroded, we have been relentless in making the hard decisions, enabling us to keep our focus on student success and on preserving Kent State’s position as Northeast Ohio’s premier regional university.”

Contact news correspondent Amanda Garrett at [email protected].