Edinboro deficit may force additional cuts

Officials say fall enrollment lower than expected

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Edinboro University may face additional non-faculty staff and manager cuts this year beyond the 13 already announced to ease a budget deficit shaping up to be greater than the $5.5 million gap previously disclosed, a school spokesman said Friday.

Jeffrey Hileman could not say how much larger the deficit might be, but when asked the difference between the numbers, he said, "It's not unsubstantial."

He spoke after Edinboro administrators and faculty union representatives met for 21/2 hours to discuss the Operations and Workforce Plan unveiled Tuesday by Edinboro president Julie Wollman, which also recommended eliminating 42 faculty positions.

The plan, like one released at Clarion University a month ago, addresses rising costs, declining enrollment and sharply lower state aid.

After Friday's session, both sides had sharply different assessments of how the meeting went.

Jean Jones, head of Edinboro's chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of State College and University Faculties, said the administration was not forthcoming.

She said under the collective bargaining agreement, faculty cuts generally can't occur before the end of this year, meaning any savings would not be realized until next year. She said administrators did not spell out exactly how they intend to close this year's gap.

"How do we find alternatives when we don't even know the plan?" she asked.

Mr. Hileman called that a mischaracterization.

He said Edinboro wants to use as little of its reserves as possible to shore up its budget, and that it previously spelled out various cost-saving moves including a 5 percent across-the-board cut in non-fixed expenses and reduced travel, among other savings.

"There are a number of additional areas that have been identified," including some that cannot be detailed publicly yet "because these also involve people's jobs," Mr. Hileman said.

"I don't think it's fair to say the university would not provide information," he added. "We have provided volumes of information."

He said the deficit figure previously announced assumed an enrollment of 7,300 students this fall. In fact, Edinboro now expects enrollment will be about 200 students lower.

Ms. Jones said Edinboro's president might be able to avoid at least one faculty job cut by taking something out of her $225,000 presidential paycheck.

"If I were in her shoes, I would be offering up a pay cut -- just symbolically," Ms. Jones said.

Ms. Wollman said removing her entire paycheck would not make a significant dent in the structural deficit her university faces.

"I would be willing to take a pay cut, but I don't think a pay cut is the answer to this problem," she said. "I don't think anybody should take a pay cut."

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