Forsee eliminates 22 UM System positions

Friday, May 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:28 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 22, 2009

COLUMBIA — Twenty-two positions in the University of Missouri System have been eliminated, President Gary Forsee announced Thursday.

This number includes the seven employees eliminated in March. Employees, whose positions range from executive vice president to lower-level administration positions, were notified Thursday. The positions will not be filled at a later date.

Betsy Rodriguez, UM System vice president for human resources, would not divulge employee names and did not yet know how many would be laid off and how many would opt to retire. 

Rodriguez said most of the positions will be eliminated within the next two months. 

But UM System spokeswoman Cindy Pollard said, “Most of (the positions) will be transitioned out of the workplace before July."

Pollard said the job eliminations will save the system more than $2 million in salary, benefits and operating costs.

These cost-saving measures come in addition to a UM System hiring freeze enacted earlier this year that has left 30 positions vacant. The system has approximately 550 employees.

With the hiring freeze, Forsee introduced other cost-reducing measures, including restrictions on travel and training.

The eliminated positions are expected to free up budget support for strategic priorities enacted by Forsee, who has made efficiency a priority in hard economic times, according to a news release. 

Pollard said it's unknown at this time how much of the saved money will go toward strategic priorities. Some of the money will also serve as a buffer for the system in the face of the uncertain economy.

“As stewards of the state’s resources, we are obliged to look carefully at our organizational structure and dedicate resources to our top-level strategic priorities,” Forsee said. 

Forsee hopes to budget more money for technology and research that could lead to licensing revenue and patenting, Pollard said.

Pollard said the plan is aimed to help Missouri by bringing in revenue based on research completed at schools within the UM System. Research, she said, could bring the state more jobs.

Rodriguez did not anticipate a negative effect on the Columbia campus or students. “Hopefully, as these strategic initiatives get funded, you’ll see positive effects,” she said, referring to a more efficient system administration.

Rodriguez did not rule out future job eliminations. 

“It’s hard to predict the future,” she said. “It’s hard for us to be able to  know what to do — but the economy is quite unstable.”

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