Catherine Couretas and Austin Fast

The current financial crisis continues to affect Miami University, as approximately 100 Miami workers will lose their jobs, according to University President David Hodge’s announcement at a Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 12.

According to Dionn Tron, associate vice president for university communication, a new retirement incentive program will attempt to keep the number of staff cuts as low as possible.

“We’re doing everything we can to limit that number to no more than 100 and limit the impact on the Miami family,” Tron said. “This is one of the ways to limit that number.”

Tron said the program will offer a $10,000 cash incentive to as many as 100 Miami classified and unclassified staff who are eligible and choose to retire on or before July 1.

Miami has approximately 2,423 classified and unclassified staff employees according to the Miami University Fact Book. Tron added that Miami is sending letters to the approximately 300 of these employees who are eligible for the program.

Tron said the program is not first come, first serve. Instead, the 100 applicants with longest continuous service at the university will be allowed to take advantage of the program and retire first.

Applications for the program will be accepted until Feb. 27 and participants must retire by July 1.

Tron hopes the program will meet its goal of 100 retirees, but says if the retirement incentive program fails to reach that number, more Miami employees may find themselves out of work.

“It’s a possibility that if this program is not successful, more than 100 positions will be cut,” Tron said. “We’re still looking at everything we can do, but we’re hoping that this will be enough of an incentive to get that number.”

Tron said the exact number of staff cuts cannot be determined until later in the spring.

“These times are a little unprecedented,” Tron said. “We’re trying to be conservative and project for the most realistic course of events, and if things turn out a little better, that gives us a little cushion and more room to do what we want to do.”

Although the precise number of cuts is not known, David Creamer, vice president of finance and business services, said the cuts will occur during the spring semester. Creamer also emphasized the number Hodge gave at the Board of Trustees meeting was strictly an estimate.

“Nothing has happened yet,” Creamer said. “This is still part of the planning.”

University Provost Jeffrey Herbst said decisions on where cuts will be made are still in the works, though it may include both classified and unclassified staff members.

Herbst added that the university doesn’t know exactly how much money this will save.

“We’ve been given targets, which we’ve discussed with the fiscal priorities committee,” Herbst said.

Creamer said that any permanent cuts would depend on the state of Ohio’s economy in the months to come.

“We want a better sense from the state of Ohio (about) how their cuts will affect us,” Creamer said. “The state hasn’t announced its (budget) plans for next year. Once they know, we’ll know.”

Herbst and Creamer both said that the university is unable to predict what additional cuts it may have to make at this time.

Tron said individual departments in the university are carefully thinking out these cuts and submitting cut proposals by the end of this week to be reviewed and implemented later in the spring.

“What we’re not doing is across the board cuts that sometimes happen because you have a short-term need,” Tron said. “We’re planning for the long term.”

Previously, Creamer said departments across the university were asked to make temporary cuts to ease budget constraints, but he said that the university would continue to think of the students first.

“Our priority will be to protect services to students,” Creamer said.

Currently, Creamer said Miami is looking to save money through other cutbacks to deal with the financial crisis.

“We’re looking at the energy budget,” Creamer said. “We’re looking at other things that we can do that would help us financially to balance the budget.”