Layoffs loom for U of M, MNSCU faculty


With the ink barely dry on the latest round of cuts to higher education funding, the state’s public colleges and universities are already bracing for more cuts next year. 

Officials from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system discussed their 2012-13 biennial budget plans with members of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division. No action was taken.

Laura King, MnSCU vice chancellor and chief financial officer, said schools within the system are being asked to plan for a $100 million cut to MnSCU’s state funding base in the next biennium. She said the number is based on MnSCU’s possible share of a projected $5.8 billion state budget deficit for those years.

“That would be a spectacularly damaging number,” King said.

St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter said his school is considering retrenchment and faculty layoffs to address the problem. St. Cloud State is already laying off nine faculty members and eliminating 26 academic programs – one-tenth of the total offered – to deal with the current deficit, he said.

King added that tuition increases will also likely be a part of MnSCU’s total budget solution.

Layoffs are also likely in the works for the University of Minnesota, where Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said 1,200 jobs are already being cut through early retirement incentives, cancellation of vacant positions and layoffs. He said more layoffs and tuition increases would be among the likely results of future budget cuts.

Pfutzenreuter noted the state’s projected 2012-13 deficit will arrive at the same time the federal stimulus funds that helped bridge the current budget gap run out. He said the university is facing a “cliff” that will reduce its funding dramatically.