UC Berkeley to Lay Off 150 Employees

By Saul Sugarman (BCN)
Friday January 14, 2011 - 11:21:00 PM

The University of California at Berkeley will lay off 150 staff members between now and June, officials announced today.  

The job cuts, which will mainly be administrative positions, are part of a three-year program that began in 2009 to save $75 million in university spending, a university spokeswoman said.  

"The layoffs are a last resort," spokeswoman Claire Holmes said.  

She said this is the first part of the cost-cutting program, called "Operational Excellence," and should save the university about $20 million.  

"This exercise was designed to reduce the number of managers in our organization," she said.  

Information technology, administration, finance, and business services will all experience cutbacks, but none have been scheduled for custodians or faculty.  

In addition, another 130 employees will be leaving voluntarily or for retirement, bring the total number of campus job eliminations in the past two years to about 500.  

Holmes said another plan to save money is for the university to renegotiate contracts with the thousands of vendors it uses to buy items such as office supplies and technology.  

"We think by negotiating fewer contracts, we can save millions of dollars," she said.  

The university has agreements with major suppliers such as OfficeMax because the company is able to handle high-volume requests, but, “We will always have relationships with a number of vendors in our local community," Holmes said.  

"We do want to support local businesses," she said.  

Holmes said the layoffs and contract renegotiations are all about finding ways to streamline university operations.  

Many campus departments run relatively separately from one another, with up to two managers reporting to superiors. The layoffs are meant to reduce the number of managers and more effectively use the ones the university retained, she said.  

The layoffs come on the heels of an increase in student applications for University of California campuses.  

Applications for freshman undergraduates at all University of California campuses increased 5.7 percent from last year, but enrollment targets for UC Berkeley remain relatively unchanged.  

"Unfortunately, these students are entering this part of their life at a time when state funding is decreasing," Holmes said about the application increase.  

Newly sworn-in Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proposed a budget that would cut California higher education funds by $1.4 billion; $500 million of that would be taken from the UC system.  

"California wants us to have the students but they keep cutting the money," Holmes said.