70 take voluntary buyout at Duquesne University

President says no more cuts needed

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A total of 70 Duquesne University employees -- 50 staff and 20 faculty -- have taken the voluntary buyout that the school offered in December as a hedge against an enrollment slide and declining revenue, the school said Monday.

The figures were provided by the university as Duquesne president Charles Dougherty held a town hall-style meeting with some 600 employees and updated them on finances and enrollment trends.

He said Duquesne has managed to erase a projected $10 million deficit for the 2012-13 academic year through a range of cost-cutting and other moves.

"We have solved the budget problem for next year," he said in remarks prepared for delivery at Monday's gathering. "No more unusual efforts to economize are necessary. In particular, there is no planning or contemplation of layoffs, salary cuts or program eliminations."

Duquesne has 1,622 full-time faculty and staff, and of that number, 298 were eligible for the buyouts. The university has not discussed terms but in December said candidates had to be at least 581/2 years old with length of service requirements that varied with a worker's job classification.

Staff who took the offer already have left their positions, and faculty who are doing so will depart at the close of the semester, Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said Monday.

Duquesne officials said recent enrollment declines, including a 2 percent loss last fall, were rooted in the recession and interrupted 10 years of enrollment growth. The losses strained finances at a school that is heavily dependent on tuition.

Total enrollment in 2011 was 10,011, down 2 percent from 10,230 a year earlier. That figure was down from 10,363 in 2009.

"To save money, more of our applicants chose to go to less expensive public institutions," Mr. Dougherty said of the recession's impact on family decisions.

The length and severity of the recession led to declines in graduate enrollment, which usually increases during an economic downturn. The graduate losses accounted for two-thirds of the school's revenue problems, he said.

Mr. Dougherty said the school plugged the projected budget hole with anticipated savings from the buyouts and a range of other moves, including a freeze on nearly all hiring, a suspension of employee raises at least through July, a cut of campus departmental operating budgets by 7 to 12 percent and a tuition increase of 4.75 percent over this year's $28,671 yearly sum.

"There will still be some challenges in the following year's budget, but nothing on the scale we have already addressed," Mr. Dougherty said in his prepared remarks.

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977.


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