As part of its plan to keep the university’s base tuition level, Temple examined reducing costs throughout the budget, but a big chunk of that simply came from cutting positions that were already vacant.
Senior Vice President of the Office of Management and Budget Ken Kaiser said that after Temple instituted a hiring freeze in fiscal year 2009, many positions were left vacant without a replacement. As officials looked at ways to reduce the university’s costs, Kaiser said they found some positions had been left vacant for an extended period of time.
“What we found was there were a number of positions that had been vacant for over a year and in some cases more than two years,” Kaiser said.
While the positions were empty, Kaiser said they were still fully budgeted, but had no one to fill the job. The university cut 180 vacant positions with 95 that were already vacant and 85 that came from retirements.
In total, Kaiser said that Temple saved approximately $15 million in salary from the elimination of vacant positions and retirements. The savings, Kaiser said, allow Temple to operate more effectively.
“These were positions that were fully budgeted but not filled. By getting rid of them we could absorb work and do things more efficiently,” Kaiser said. “We have taken every opportunity to be efficient.”
Of the 85 retirements that Temple saw, 71 of them came from a retirement incentive put forth by the university.
While Temple is saving money from the cuts, it’s unlikely that any of these positions, which were mainly clerical and administrative in facilities management, will be brought back.
“You can’t say you cut the budget without keeping the positions eliminated,” Kaiser said. “They are off the books permanently.”
The recession played an enormous role in Temple’s accumulation of vacant positions in recent years, since the university instituted a hiring freeze during that time.
When asked if the positions were meant to be left vacant, Kaiser said, “If I was asked that three years ago, I would say they would be filled. All budgets have been challenging since 2008 though.”
Kaiser said that tuition wouldn’t have been able to be kept level, if it weren’t for cutting the positions and said that the university understands the problem of student debt.
“It is very important to keep access open and tuition affordable,” Kaiser said. “We all know about student debt and with a zero percent base increase, it is decreased.”
Temple’s base tuition this year will remain at $13,006 and $22,832 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.
Siobhan Redding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.