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UH-Manoa eyes more layoffs to offset $14M shortfall


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POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2009

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is planning to lay off more staff and faculty at the beginning of next year to cover a $14 million shortfall.

Administrators could not reach an agreement with employee unions for a one-day-a-month furlough, or a 5 percent salary reduction, and have decided to move forward with staff cutbacks, said Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw in a campus memo.

The earliest the layoffs could come is spring semester 2010. The number of cuts is still unknown, and administrators will report how they plan to make the reductions in their departments to the chancellor. Affected employees will be notified starting Sept. 1.

The move comes on top of an earlier budget reduction of 4 percent, or $11.6 million. That resulted in the elimination of 150 faculty and staff members and the placing on hold of 500 course sections for the fall semester.

The $14 million will come from a 2.5 percent reduction in the budget for Arts and Sciences programs and a 6 percent cut to the budget of other campus programs. Hinshaw spared the Arts and Sciences programs from a larger cut because they are major programs at the campus.

J.N. Musto, executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents about 3,200 members, argued furloughs are harmful for an educational institution and are impossible to enact.

“;They would lose substantial money in federal grants,”; he said.

Under furloughs, faculty would still be required to work the same amount as expected by the level of their professional duties, he said.

“;They're salary cuts; they aren't furloughs,”; he said. “;The real answer is for the governor to stop restricting legislatively appropriated funds coming to the university.”;

UH-Manoa is facing a $66 million, or 26 percent, budget shortfall over the next two years, one of the highest percentages in the country, according to Hinshaw.

College of Education Dean Christine Sorensen said a 6 percent budget cut in her department equals about $900,000.

“;What we have to figure out is how we can manage this the best we can without hurting the students' ability to get through their programs,”; she said. “;There are no good solutions. You can't cut 26 percent of the budget and not have a big impact.”;

Senior Mark Ing dropped a second major in music because he could not take a class cut by budget reductions.

“;It's just unfortunate that the state didn't recognize our university as part of the solution,”; said Ing, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii.