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EKU using hiring freeze, not layoffs to balance budget

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Updated: 6/08/2012 7:30 pm
While the state’s flagship university is cutting jobs and not filling vacant positions to help make up a budget shortfall, the closest regional university is going another direction.
 
Eastern Kentucky University implemented a hiring freeze, except for essential positions, last December in anticipation of another slash to its budget by the state legislature.  EKU saw the state cut $4.6 million in the new fiscal year, which is more than half of the Richmond college’s $8.3 million shortfall.
 
“The layoffs are a more draconian approach than Eastern Kentucky University took," James Street, EKU Vice President for Administrative Affairs said.
 
The University of Kentucky earlier this week announced the layoff of 140 staff and the elimination of 164 vacant positions, 44 of which were faculty.
 
"You're left with very few levers to pull and a large percentage of the university's budget is tied into personnel,” explained UK spokesman Jay Blanton.
 
UK has a $43 million budget deficit of which $20 million was caused by a cut in state funding.
 
At Eastern the squeeze down on the side of its work force of 2,000 began late last year with the hiring freeze and reliance on attrition.
 
"We've tried to minimally effect or impact the academic side of things,” said Street.  “We've only held three, I think, faculty positions.   As a result of that the administrative side, staff support and so forth has taken the brunt of the freeze."
 
All public universities have turned to tuition increases year after year over the last decade plus to help refill the budget.  At EKU, where tuition covers two thirds of the budget, 2012 is no different.
 
In April the Board of Regents approved a 5 percent increase in tuition and 3.5 percent hike in the meal plan.

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