MMA cuts 13 support positions

Posted April 09, 2009, at 11:37 p.m.

CASTINE, Maine — After a campuswide review of operations sparked by cuts in state aid, Maine Maritime Academy recently announced it has cut 13 administrative support positions, resulting in the layoff of nine employees.

No faculty positions were eliminated.

The layoffs were not the direct result of current economic conditions, but were precipitated by cuts in state aid to the academy announced last fall, according to MMA President Leonard Tyler on Thursday.

The college also expects to increase tuition by 5 percent next year.

Early in the current school year, Tyler said, MMA officials learned the state would cut aid to the college by about $476,000 this year. Tyler said the college immediately imposed a hiring freeze and restricted travel and other types of nonessential spending and began looking at other ways to cut costs.

“I asked the senior leadership to look at the entire campus to try to find areas where it would be possible to do the same jobs efficiently with fewer people,” he said.

The resulting job cuts were announced late last month. Four of the positions were vacant, but the cuts did result in the loss of jobs for nine employees, he said. No faculty members were lost, Tyler said.

“We did not look at faculty,” he said. “Enrollment remains very strong, and again we have a record number of applications this year. So we should have a full freshman class this fall.”

With enrollment in other classes high, Tyler said he anticipates total enrollment at the start of the year should be high with 850 to 900 students.

Some of the layoffs were immediate, while some positions will continue into the summer, Tyler said. Also, some of those affected by the layoffs were union employees who have bumping rights and may be eligible to move into other positions. Others were eligible for retirement, he said.

In addition to the job cuts, the college reduced the hours for some positions, cutting 12-month jobs to 11 or 10 months and reducing summer hours for others.

Tyler said that although the moves eventually will save the college as much as $500,000, those savings won’t be immediate. Because of severance packages and contract obligations, the savings will come later on, he said.

Tyler said the layoffs were made last month. All employees were notified of the cuts at that time in order to ease concerns on campus. At that time, he told employees that he did not anticipate additional layoffs or cutbacks. But he qualified that statement.

“We hope we don’t have to do it again,” he said Thursday. “But I’m looking at [state] revenue projections that are off by $350 [million] to $500 million. If the state imposes significant cuts on us again, we’ll have to look at other measures. We have to have a balanced budget.”

rhewitt@bangordailynews.net

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