Harvard will lay off a total of 60 office workers in its central administration by April in an attempt to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the University announced last week.
“It’s one part of an effort to both look carefully at our operation and make sure we have the right number and kinds of staff to take advantage of technology and cost-saving measures,” Merry Touborg, a spokesperson from the Office of Human Resources (OHR), said yesterday. “We have been protected significantly by our wealth from a bad economy.”
Touborg said that University told 20 workers last Wednesday that their jobs will terminate in 90 days. Forty additional positions from the central administration will be eliminated by March or April as part of a year-long review of current programs and practices aimed at reducing the overall budget for the 2005 Fiscal Year.
The 20 workers laid off last week, including several managers, are from three different departments within the central administration, according to Touborg.
Seventeen of the 20 positions eliminated come from the University’s Financial Administration Department (FAD).
Ann E. Berman, Harvard’s chief financial officer and vice president for FAD, sent a letter to all FAD employees last Wednesday telling them that most of the other positions slated for termination in the upcoming months will be from departments other than FAD.
“We expect that in the March-April time frame, employees in other areas of central administration will be notified of position eliminations,” she wrote in the letter.
Touborg said that some laid-off employees will be able to find new jobs within the University.
“It is doubtful that all those people will be left without jobs at Harvard,” she said. “We expect that some of them will be hired in other departments here.”
According to Touborg, professional career counselors will assist laid-off workers in seeking new employment, both within and outside Harvard.
Two of the laid-off workers are members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) and will be receiving severance packages that exceed the minimum thresholds set by the union’s contract, according to Adrienne Landau, president of HUCTW.
“Our standard severance package is very fair and the severance package given to the workers laid off will be very generous,” Landau said yesterday.
Landau said that two other HUCTW employees have been offered “optional lay off,” meaning that they have the chance to voluntarily leave their jobs in exchange for a severance package.
“They’re each evaluating each of their individual situations before volunteering,” Landau said.
Non-unionized workers will also be receiving enhanced severance packages, according to Touborg.
—Staff writer May Habib can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.