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University of Missouri System trims staff in restructuring move


Christian Basi

May 21, 2009

Investments to be made in key strategic areas; Systemwide cost-reduction guidelines, hiring freeze to remain in place

Editor's note: University of Missouri System Vice President for Human Resources Betsy Rodriguez will be available to answer questions during a brief media opportunity from 3-3:20 p.m. Thursday, May 21 in the Large Conference Room at the Old Alumni Center adjacent to the A. L. Gustin Golf Course on Carrie Franke Drive on the MU campus. Media representatives who are unable to attend in person may ask a question by calling in to the following number.

Dial-in information is as follows:

Toll Free Dial-In Number: (866) 434-5269
Participant Code: 6109108

University of Missouri System President Gary D. Forsee today announced plans to streamline system administration and invest more resources in strategic priorities, including distance education and economic development/intellectual property. Budget support for these initiatives will come from staff reductions and continuation of a hiring freeze and cost-reduction guidelines currently in place for UM system administration and its four campuses. The cost reduction measures include continuing restrictions on travel, training and non-capital equipment purchases.

Forsee has approved plans to eliminate 22 positions located at every level of the UM system office, including human resources, finance and administration, government relations, academic affairs, the president's office and the UM Board of Curators office. The total includes seven position eliminations announced by the University of Missouri Press in March.

Earlier this year, Forsee imposed a hiring freeze which resulted in about 30 system administration position vacancies. Many of these positions will remain unfilled for an extended period as system officials continue to evaluate staffing priorities in the context of flat or reduced funding.

"It is always difficult to make decisions that either eliminate positions or add more work to already productive employees," Forsee said. "As stewards of the state's resources, we are obliged to look carefully at our organizational structure and dedicate resources to our top-level strategic priorities. It is important to enter the next fiscal year with a clear plan for our future - one that focuses on our mission and provides the necessary resources."

Forsee said that about half of the cost savings from the expense reductions, hiring freeze and position eliminations will be used to support the university's strategic priorities. The remaining portion will help serve as a buffer for the university in the face of an uncertain economic climate.

The majority of individuals who are affected by the elimination of positions will receive transition assistance and access to health care commensurate with their years of service with the university. Some positions that will be eliminated are being vacated due to individuals retiring or taking other jobs.

Forsee said that the Systemwide hiring freeze and expense control guidelines will remain in place. Campuses will retain the flexibility to address critical positions as vacancies and needs occur.