Enrollment decline prompts UC Berkeley Extension layoffs

16 January 2002 | Citing a 17 percent decline in enrollment revenue from the previous year, UC Berkeley Extension announced Monday that it had been forced to lay off the equivalent of 35 full-time employees to reduce its payroll expenses.

Mirroring the downturn in segments of the Bay Area economy, the continuing education program first felt a drop in enrollment last summer in its high technology programs. The decline became sharper with the deepening recession after Sept. 11, which had a particularly adverse impact on international enrollments.

As a result, UC Berkeley Extension is projecting a $5.6 million deficit for fiscal year 2001-02, or approximately 12 percent of the prior year’s revenue of $45 million.

“As a self-supporting organization that receives no university or state funding, UC Berkeley Extension must reduce the cost of its infrastructure in proportion to overall lower revenues,” the program’s announcement said.

When fiscal conservation measures put in place this fall proved insufficient, it became necessary, as a “last resort,” to make reductions in its staff of 374 full-time employees.

“We regret having to take this action, and regret the loss of loyal employees,” said George DePuy, Extension’s acting dean. “We have worked to put together the best possible package we can in the hopes that this will help ease their transition.”

Twenty-four employees have received layoff notices; other positions have been reduced from full time to part time.

To the extent possible, affected employees received 60 days notice and are eligible for employment and benefit counseling and services from the university’s Human Resources office.

Services offered will include access to a computer-equipped job-search center, with a staff member to assist in job searches, as well as help with résumé preparation and job-interview techniques.

“We realize that some may not have had to do job searches for some time,” said Beth Luke, director of operations for Human Resources.

All affected employees will also continue to have access to their e-mail accounts.

“These days, many employers accept online résumés and respond to applicants through e-mail,” Luke said. “For those who do not have computers at home, we want to make sure that they won’t be disadvantaged in any way.”

Arrangements have been made for affected staff to see a CARE services counselor, if they wish, to help work through emotional issues that may arise. And they will be eligible for free UC Berkeley Extension courses for two years beyond the date of separation.

“Where possible,” Luke said, “it is also our intent to offer employees the choice of severance pay or layoff rights, which includes the right to preferential rehire.”

“We recognize that this is a very difficult time. We’re also very concerned about those employees remaining in the department,” she added.

“Oftentimes the work environment is very similar to an extended family, and those employees remaining will suffer a sense of loss. We will be planning presentations and sessions to work with them as well.”


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