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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Shelton warns of further cuts

While President Robert Shelton tried his best to calm fears about the UA transformation at an open forum on Tuesday, he said continued cuts may be inevitable.

To stress the severity of the cuts made to the Arizona university system by the state legislature, Shelton outlined last year’s plan dealing with cutbacks by saying that some staff, appointed professionals and faculty positions were cut to deal with that problem, and that the same system would most likely be used this year.

“”The pain was spread out,”” Shelton said. “”I think that’s how it will be handled this year as well.””

Shelton stressed that the university community should not let fear and rumors take over its day-to-day operations, saying that “”people are more susceptible to rumors”” during tough financial times.

For the UA, those tough financial times have come in the form of about $100 million in cuts over the past year, a number that may soon rise, as the state legislature has told the Arizona universities to plan for an additional $50 million cut.

“”The way we’ve attempted to deal with this is the transformation program,”” Shelton said.

“”We recognized it was time to stop trying to do everything — when you have fewer dollars you have to fewer things.””

He assured people that there would not be cuts across the board and that employees should work closely with their employers to make the cuts more efficient and beneficial.

“”I have yet to meet anyone who thinks across-the-board cuts is good,”” Shelton said. “”We need differential cuts.””

Fielding a question about the 90-day termination notice that the president can decide to invoke at any time, Shelton said this process must go through the president’s office and cannot be done only by a supervisor’s authority. He added that the process is implemented on an individual case-by-case basis, therefore there couldn’t be massive cuts, and that no such requests had come to his desk.

“”It’s a good middle ground between flexibility without vulnerability,”” Shelton said.

When asked whether there were alternative ways the UA could give back to employees than pay increases, Shelton was open to suggestions.

“”I would love to hear your suggestions,”” he said. “”Send me an e-mail, slip a note under my door. If we can simplify their lives I want to hear about it.””

Attendees brought up the idea of building a child care facility on campus, and Shelton made clear that no stimulus money could be used to build such a facility.

“”Stimulus funds don’t qualify for new construction, only renovation,”” he said. “”We don’t have the cash but we have the land and the demand.””

The administration is working on having a private group build the facility on land chosen by the university, and Shelton said public bidding will begin soon.

Shelton also said the UA was working to find a definite answer from the state on what the recent bill HB 2013, which redefined the term “”dependent”” for state employee health care benefits, would mean to UA employees.

Confusion followed the passing of the bill, which stripped domestic partners’ health benefits, since the UA’s deadline for open enrollment for health insurance is scheduled a few hours after the bill is supposed to go in effect.

The administration, Shelton said, is working to get something definitive from the state and the attorney general’s office to get a ruling on the timeline for the definition of dependence.

“”We are working around the clock to get an answer — the right answer,”” Shelton said.

The meeting ended with some attendees pleased with the results.

“”I think it was successful. My questions were answered and we heard lots of valuable information,”” said Linda Breci, associate director of Arizona Proteomics Consortium. “”I’m going to keep a close eye on some of the issues raised.””

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