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Oxford College looks to reduce staff

OXFORD - Emory University's Oxford College became the latest local victim of unfavorable economic conditions this month.

Oxford College Dean Stephen Bowen announced in an employee e-mail on Feb. 1 that the college staff will be reduced by 13 this year.

The school plans to reduce the need for five full-time and four part-time staff positions, as well as phase out four temporary or vacant staff positions.

Bowen said Friday he is not revealing what those positions are or who those employees are, except to say that it does include the elimination of one late-night desk position; he said in the e-mail that the affected employees have been notified of the decision.

The college made this choice, he said, after Emory University President James Wagner updated officials on Jan. 22 on lower than expected growth.

"As we worked through the possibilities, it became clear that we could not produce a balanced budget ... without reducing and/or eliminating positions," Bowen wrote in the staff e-mail. "In each case, the related offices or functions are being reorganized to produce greater efficiency. No faculty positions will be eliminated or reduced, although we will reduce our expenditures on adjunct faculty."

He said the college and university will focus on three commitments when planning for future budgets: maintain a long-term focus, preserve core programs and preserve core faculty and staff.

"Although we cannot afford to be a static community in a dynamic world, when changes in personnel are made, they will be carefully considered in terms of both programs and persons," Bowen wrote.

The college plans to extend benefits to eliminated employees and also make available to them the services of a Faculty Staff Assistance Program, Bowen said.

In addition, the college also expects to set up a hardship fund with an initial balance of $2,000 to help those affected employees meet their financial needs. Bowen encouraged anyone to make an anonymous contribution when that becomes available.

"These are truly difficult times. None of us has experience in dealing with the kinds of changes that continue to confront us daily," Bowen said in the e-mail. "Given the best projections available, we are hopeful and believe that we have worked out budget plans for FY10, FY11 and FY12 that will continue to provide strong support for our students' educations in the near term and for Oxford's continued growth and evolution in the long term."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.