Azziz announces job cuts at GHSU

Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz

 

Continued reductions in state funding will mean the loss of some jobs at Georgia Health Sciences University, school President Ri­cardo Azziz announced Tuesday.

Azziz made the announcement in an institutionwide e-mail addressing budgetary issues for GHSU and its health system.

The university has trimmed its budget twice this year to accommodate a mandated 3 percent cut in state funding and a further 2 percent reduction to create an investment fund for future growth.

GHSU spokeswoman Christen Carter said six people would lose their jobs. She could not disclose which positions would be eliminated because not all of the people have been notified.

An additional three positions would be eliminated through retirements and at least 20 more vacant positions would not be filled, Carter said. More details will be provided at a later date, she said.

Azziz’s announcement said the cutting isn’t expected to end there, indicating an additional 2 percent reduction in state funding is likely.

“Departments and units have already begun putting their budget reduction plans into action,” the statement said.

The largest part of budget reductions have come through eliminating vacant positions and cutting travel and supply budgets, with an effort to spare teaching and research functions as much as possible, the statement said.

“However and unfortunately, after more than five years of consecutive reductions in state funding, the fact is that we are out of ‘painless’ options, and we were faced with the need to eliminate a small number of current positions in order to meet the targeted budget reductions,” the statement said.

Not all the reductions are being mandated by the state. Part of the savings created through budget cuts will be used to fund the university’s future, Azziz said. That money will be used to “seed a sequestered, future-oriented growth fund.”

The Strategic Acade­mic, Research and Services De­vel­op­ment Fund will be used to support growth and development of new programs and services at Georgia Regents Uni­versity, to be formed in January by consolidating GHSU and Augusta State University.

“We must all accept that state funding is likely to continue its trend of contraction, and we must plan accordingly,” the statement said. “Individually and collectively, we must continue to work effectively, efficiently and remain vigilant in our efforts to keep costs down.”

Azziz’s announcement continues the message of belt-tightening and cost savings the administration has been talking about for months.

In a statement in October, Azziz said losses in state funding since 2008 amount to about $226 million for the institution and that future spending for projects such as the National Cancer Center, upgrading the aging information technology infrastructure and the consolidation with Augusta State University will amount to about $300 million in additional spending in coming years.

In the Oct. 31 statement, Azziz cautioned against waiting for economic conditions to improve and for state funding to return to previous levels.

“(We) are in an economic ‘new nor­mal.’ Waiting for things to ‘get better’ is folly. The time for planning and action is now,” he said.

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