University of Pittsburgh
June 11, 2012

Pitt to Reduce Staff by More Than 300

Severe state cuts cause latest round of budget reductions
Contact:  412-624-4147


PITTSBURGH—More than 300 University of Pittsburgh employees have indicated that they will take advantage of the University’s Voluntary Early Retirement Plan, put into effect on April 24, and will retire as of June 30, 2012. 

“Demand for the high-quality programs provided by the University of Pittsburgh has continued to rise dramatically, even during the national economic downturn,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “In fact, the work done at Pitt, both in education and in research, has been one of the key drivers of regional economic growth and helped cushion Western Pennsylvania from the worst impacts of the recent recession. As a result, this loss of jobs not only is unfortunate for Pitt but is bad news for the people of this region. However, we had no choice but to take this step in the face of the serious budget challenges that we face as a result of deep decreases in state support for public higher education here in Pennsylvania.”

Even before the recent round of historically large reductions, Pennsylvania often has been ranked among the country’s bottom five states in terms of support for higher education. For example, the report “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” released earlier this year by the National Science Board, ranked Pennsylvania among the bottom five states in terms of appropriations of state tax funds for operating expenses of higher education as a percentage of gross domestic product in Fiscal Year 2010. And data published by the National Information Center for Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis ranked Pennsylvania among the bottom five states in terms of state and local support for higher education operating expenses per capita in Fiscal Year 2011. 

However, the cuts to state support imposed on Pitt and other public universities in Pennsylvania during Fiscal Year 2012, the current fiscal year, were far more severe. During the current fiscal year, the University of Pittsburgh suffered total losses in state support of $67 million: an initial reduction to its appropriation of 22 percent, or more than $40 million; a mid-year cut of another 5 percent, or nearly $7 million; and a 50 percent reduction to its capital projects support, another $20 million. 

In the budget proposal made by the administration in February, Pitt was targeted for an additional cut of 30 percent, or more than $40 million, to its appropriation. That proposal also recommended that a program of health-related research support from the state’s tobacco settlement fund be completely eliminated. Over the past 10 years, the University has been competitively awarded more than $13 million per year from that fund, and that support that has been effectively leveraged to secure even larger federal grants. During the last fiscal year, the University imported more than $800 million of research support into the local economy.

“Fortunately,” said Chancellor Nordenberg, “the state’s revenue projections have measurably improved since that early February proposal was made. There seems to be strong and growing support to use some of those funds to spare Pennsylvania’s public universities from a second successive year of deep and disproportionate cuts, and we are hopeful that position will prevail when the state budget is finally approved. After all, if the recommended reductions stand, Pitt will have lost more than 50 percent of its state support, well in excess of $100 million, in just two years. That cannot be good, either for today’s Pennsylvania families or for the collective future of Pennsylvania.”

Pitt’s early retirement option has been offered to 672 eligible classified employees. Nearly 270 members of that group have not yet formally indicated whether they intend to participate in the plan and have until June 15 to decide whether or not they will leave the University. As a result, the number of employees opting to leave the University on June 30 still could grow.

Those employees offered the plan had to be, as of April 1, 2012, at least 59 years of age and employed by Pitt for a minimum of 10 years of continuous service as regular full-time or regular part-time classified staff. Classified employees are nonunion, nonfaculty, nonexecutive, nontemporary staff members.