EMU employees to lose jobs over budget cuts

Ten EMU employees lost their jobs Monday evening due to budget cuts. Although the number of job losses are known, the actual positions and people have not yet been identified.

As interim President Donald Loppnow explained in an email to faculty and staff members, EMU employees who could potentially be cut, will be assessed over a 30-day “bumping” period while Welch Hall negotiates with union members. No actual instructors or professors will be affected by this decision.

“The university’s processes for non-union employees were followed to ensure employees are being treated fairly under these circumstances,” Loppnow wrote in an email to EMU staff and faculty.

Earlier this month, Union members came to protest the privatization of EMU dining services. These members felt like the university was doing things behind their backs. One of the most vocal opponent came from Accounting Professor Howard Bunsis, who accused the Board of Regents of sending that dining notice out on the last day of this past winter semester. As Loppnow said at the meeting, negotiations with Chartwells, the food servicing company which will take over EMU’s food services, started months earlier.

“Over the last several months we communicated that the University is facing budget reductions as it enters into the new fiscal year in order to ensure a balanced budget and longer term financial stability,” Loppnow said.

EMU’s branch of the American Association of University Professors sent out an email the following morning disputing Loppnow’s claim that 90 percent of EMU’s expenses were from salaries. In reality, the number comes out around 63 percent, according to EMU’s Data Book.

“The people being laid off are not high paid administrators, but modestly compensated employees throughout the university,” Howard Bunsis, who wrote the AAUP email, said. “We are saddened that hard working employees are losing their jobs.”

According to the EMU Data Book (page 28), the university has gained 94 faculty members since 2011. Noticeably, the number of full-time lecturers dropped from 106 to 88 individuals, while the number of part-time lecturers increased by 130. The number of professors – whether full professors, associate professors or assistant professors, or instructors – went from 701 in 2011 to 683 last year.

The AAUP says that the university is spending too much money on administration and athletics. Going strictly by head count, EMU went from having 46 coaches in 2011 to 54 today. Also, 228 of EMU’s 1,085 full-time staff members are “administrative professionals.” That is one-fifth of all employees.

The university has already slashed 40 posts that were already unfilled. Loppnow emphasized in his email that the cuts won’t be done across the board.

The money being freed up is intended to stabilize Eastern’s financial situation and continue the renovations EMU is conducting in the near future.

Eastern is going to complete its remodeling of the science complex with a $40 million renovation on Strong Hall, the first major work done since the building was completed in 1957. The Michigan State legislature approved a $30 million investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classes earlier this month. EMU is responsible for the last 25 percent.

The Board of Regents also authorized forty new employment searches in the last Board of Regents meeting, including nine for lecturers. According to the university’s Job Board, there are 120 open positions at this university. About one third of these are for graduate assistant positions.

“I ask that you support those impacted at this challenging time,” Loppnow concluded with his signature. 

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