Miami Budget Cuts Won’t Include Layoffs

By Rebecca Huff

Anticipating a tighter economic future, Miami University President Gregory Crawford announced a series of budget cuts for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

In an email addressed to the “Miami community” on Feb. 7, Crawford announced the cuts, but said he did not expect them to include any personnel reductions “during the current academic year.”

“The reality is clear that our current expenses are growing faster than our revenue; it is not sustainable. Great institutions are not immune to market volatility and disruptive change, but great institutions proactively plan and position themselves accordingly,” he said.

The email specified the following areas as being targeted for cuts:

  • Administrative divisions (including the President’s Office), a reduction of 1.5 percent annually for the next five years
  • Auxiliary operations (including Intercollegiate Athletics), a reduction of 2 percent annually in general fee support for the next five years
  • Academic department budget reallocations of 1 percent, initially, for the next five years, with the provost redirecting those funds to high-demand, high-impact programs with measurable outcomes

“As future plans develop, some areas will grow with new investments to advance Miami’s strategic initiatives, while others may require fewer positions,” Crawford said in the email.

David Ellis, chair of the financial sustainability subcommittee, said he does not expect any layoffs to occur in the near future.

The subcommittee is part of the strategic planning steering committee that was asked to guide the university into financial and academic sustainability while aligning with Miami’s mission, vision and current initiatives.

When departments require fewer positions, that does not imply layoffs. Ellis said reductions could be made through attrition.

“It’s somebody that leaves their position, that position becomes available for either filling in its current form or being moved over to a different department or division,” he said.

The last time Miami implemented cutbacks was shortly after the economic recession of 2008.

Cathy Wagner, chapter president of the American Association of University Professors at Miami, remembered that the biggest cuts during that period happened to non-academic staff.

“I hope there are ways of creating efficiency that won’t involve losing our wonderful employees,” she said.

Joseph Newlin, finance director for the city of Oxford, said the city was “lucky” during the 2008 recession because it didn’t have to lay anyone off because of the cutbacks at Miami, Oxford’s largest employer.

“We had a number of people in that timeframe that were retiring so once they retired we didn’t fill the positions automatically. We waited until times got better,” he said.

“During the downturn in the 2008-2010 timeframe, when they (the university) did reduce positions, they let the city know immediately and then we reacted at that point. Right now, it’s not even decided,” Newlin said.