University calls for voluntary resignations in first of efforts to solve deficit

Emma Discher, Senior Staff Reporter

University initiatives to eliminate the university’s annual operating cash deficit of $15 million to $20 million will take effect this month with the departure of university staff members. The Operational Review steering committee and the independent Huron Consulting Group led this effort.

Tulane offered select staff members a voluntary separation program Wednesday. If this initiative does not result in a large enough change in expenses, non-voluntary layoffs will be considered.

“It is not our intention to force valuable Tulane employees to apply for the Voluntary Separation Program,” Fitts said in his Oct. 12 email. “However, if we do not achieve the necessary dollars savings through the voluntary phase, we will likely have to consider additional measures such as non-voluntary lay-offs.”

The voluntary separation program affects staff members, not faculty members. Faculty includes professors. Staff includes non-teaching support staff.

The email also announced a 2 percent merit increase pool that will take effect on Jan. 1 for faculty and staff. The new year also brings changes for overtime pay, sick leave and vacation time that will limit the amount of time that employees can accrue.

Workforce expenses including wages and benefits make up more than 50 percent of Tulane’s total expenses, but the committee is also looking to other areas for cuts. These main areas are procurement and travel management, summer programming, student housing utilization, employee healthcare management, renegotiation of the energy contract, student health center third-party billing, and admission and enrollment.