EDITORIAL: Abrupt layoffs produce job security concerns

Illustration by Rob Gebelhoff / robert.gebelhoff@marquette.edu

Illustration by Rob Gebelhoff / robert.gebelhoff@marquette.edu

The sudden announcement of 25 layoffs went out to staff and faculty in a letter from Interim University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild Wednesday. News of the layoffs, which included the complete elimination of the Office of Administration, were widely released in a news brief Thursday night.

Marquette faces department restructuring in addition to abrupt staff cutbacks as an effort to keep the university budget and student tuition low. With the cuts, the university takes a clear initiative to find unnecessary departments and make affirmative changes to enhance the efficiency of the departments all together. Costs should be trimmed for the sake of university efficiency and tuition management but handled in a manner considerate to current employees.

It is the university leadership’s duty to eradicate superfluous costs to the university and keep tuition manageable for students. Yet concerns arise with the abruptness and extent of these cuts, which raise questions regarding whether  other offices could be eliminated for the sake of the budget and if more layoffs are in store throughout the university.

Wild’s letter indicated the employee cuts were already in progress or would soon be carried out. However, hardly any warning was given to staff and faculty members, and the university at large was not clued in until after the fact. While the university disclosed news of the staff layoffs, the suddenness of the announcement failed to give staff sufficient time to prepare and also raised concerns about job security in other departments on campus. In wake of the layoffs, staff may be worried about their positions and whole departments are questioning their fundamental importance in the university.

While Marquette should pursue a cost-cutting path, and the Office of Administration was deemed cost inefficient, university leadership needs to explain to the community which departments may be labeled as unnecessary costs before proceeding with cuts in the future.

The uncertainty regarding further layoffs is a concern as the budget for the next fiscal year becomes solidified. Wild said in Wednesday’s letter that the university would reduce employee positions by approximately 105, with the 25 layoffs, usual staff turnover, retirements and unfilled vacancies. Additional layoffs could be in order if the budget needs more work.

Marquette leadership should be straightforward about any upcoming staff developments, indicating clearly whether staff should be concerned about their positions or not.

Though there are issues with disclosure of the cuts, university leadership is following prescribed procedures in letting staff go. Laid off employees will receive severance packages and benefits as well as career transition services.Widespread layoffs are not preferred, but university leaders are following accepted etiquette and making the process as helpful as possible to those leaving the Marquette community.

Layoffs are a necessary evil during times of budget reevaluation, but the university should proceed with consideration for the wider community, continuing to keep everyone informed in a timely manner that instills confidence in proceedings.

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