La Tourette outlines staff reduction plan

By Jami Peterson

NIU President John La Tourette took what could be the first step to knock off about 40 employees and $1.2 million from the university’s annual salary budget by fiscal year 1994.

La Tourette passed out an outline of his staff reduction plan during the Organization, Productivity and Salaries (OPS) Committee meeting last Friday. The plan calls for at least half of the 40 positions and associated dollars to be eliminated in fiscal year 1993, with the second half taken away in fiscal year 1994.

OPS was formed as part of La Tourette’s plan of attack to find money for a 4.25 percent salary pool to be given across-the-board to all faculty members by July 1993.

La Tourette said the 40 positions will be eliminated or shifted from appropriated funds from the state to non-appropriated funds, which come from sources other than Springfield and used for salary increases over the next two years.

However, no regular or temporary teaching positions including instructors, assistants and associates will be eliminated through the staff reduction plan, La Tourette said.

“We’re trying to make (the cuts) as painless as possible,” he said.

La Tourette said one way to get rid of some positions might be to make an early retirement plan to induce some faculty members to retire. “We really have to be imaginative here,” he said.

Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning said NIU will be looking at areas including the number of expected resignations, the turnover rate of employees, vacant positions, expected retirees and general staffing.

Matthew Wetstein, a member of OPS and the University Resource Advisory Committee, said many graduate assistants believe “the squeeze is on,” and they might lose their positions for next year.

“The perception is (staff reductions) will be on the backs of graduate assistants,” Wetstein said.

La Tourette said some graduate assistant positions might be eliminated, but students holding positions will be allowed to complete their terms.

However, Williams said the plan still is being evaluated and graduate assistants have not been affected yet. “There is no impact on graduate assistants.”

Richard Brown, dean of the College of Business, said there already have been two cuts in academic affairs including adult education and international studies.

However, La Tourette said the OPS plan for staff reduction does not include any staff or budget reductions done by other phases of NIU’s budget reduction plan.

“We’re not throwing anyone out of their position,” La Tourette said.

Joan Greening, president of the Supportive Professional Staff Council, asked who decides where the reductions and reorganizations hit in the departments.

Williams said each division will evaluate where reductions can be made with the least impact on the university. “It’s a gigantic balancing act,” he said.

Controller Robert Albanese said although NIU has “started to scratch the surface,” a complete evaluation of the budget must be completed.

“Sooner or later we’ve got to take a long look at all the fees (moving through the university),” he said.

The committee will discuss the plan further in the upcoming meetings.