AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - The University of Akron announced Wednesday a total of 178 faculty, staff members and contract professional positions will be cut.
In total, there will also be a total of 20 voluntary cuts and 64 voluntary retirements.
The recent measures were approved by the administration and the Board of Trustees Wednesday.
“The University of Akron’s commitment to elevate lives through opportunity is important to all of us at FirstEnergy,” said CEO Charles E. Jones, Member, Board of Directors in a released statement. “The thoughtful work of President [Gary L.] Miller in these times of compounded pressures requires resiliency, innovative thinking and optimism for the future – and the strength to make tough decisions. We support our hometown university and President Miller’s guidance to see UA through this crisis to the other side of stability and growth.”
The university said it plans to notify those who will lose their job by 5 p.m. July 17.
University of Akron President Gary Miller said the pandemic has taken a toll on the budgets of public universities across the country. He said because of the virus fall enrollment is down, events have been canceled, and a portion of spring housing and meal plans have been refunded, even state funding has been reduced, but even before that the college had a projected budget shortfall of 65 million dollars.
“So COVID immediately like overnight just reduced our enrollment, reduced our state funding, our state funding will be lower as we go forward,” Miller said. “It really hit some other revenue streams as well and it was clear that we don’t have the financial reserves to wait it out.”
In total, 16.4 million dollars in salaries and benefits are being cut.
“Very little severance because we don’t have the resources to do that,” explained Miller. “We have offered a little bit of incentive to individuals who are within retirement age this year but that’s one of the unfortunate aspects of this is we just didn’t have a lot of room to go.”
Katie Stoynoff was the chief negotiator for the union. She is also a faculty member in the English department.
“It’s a sad day in the history of the University of Akron and my heart goes out to my colleagues and our staff and contract professionals and others who lost their jobs today,” Stoynoff said.
Stoynoff said they have been negotiating for months and while the outcome could have been worse, it’s still a dark day for the university. One that she had seen coming even before the coronavirus.
“COVID is a part of it. It is not the cause of if so, this has been kind of brewing and has been a problem for a long time. There have been decisions to try to reduce and prevent this from happening, but I think what happened is the onset of COVID kind of multiplied what was already a significant problem,” explained Stoynoff.
University President Gary L. Miller said the position cuts were based on the needs of the university.
The total salary and benefits that are being cut are in total of $16.4 million.
Below is the breakdown of positions being cut, as well as voluntary resignations and retirements.
Full-time faculty: 97
Contract professionals: 21
Full-time faculty: 6
Contract professionals: 8
Full-time faculty: 15
Contract professionals: 13