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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Green jobs vs. pink slips
June 25, 2010 - 6:02pm

Over the past couple of years, finances at Greenback have been tight; I know they have been on a lot of campuses. Fiscal years at state campuses tend to be determined at the state level, but many (most?) private universities have FY's that end on June 30. Thus, at private schools, layoffs (when necessary) are often announced in June.

Last year, I know that a number of schools -- not a large number, but a number nonetheless -- laid off their staff sustainability directors and turned the posts into student-employee or internship positions. Of course, last year a lot of schools cut back on several categories of full-time staff. A few, as I recall, even cut back on faculty lines.

So as this June got closer, I heard some nervousness among staff at a number of campuses, including Greenback. Finances may be better than they were last year, but finances are not yet good. Even at schools where enrollments are up ("can't get a job anyway, might as well get a degree in something"), that doesn't always translate into additional staff positions. More students means more classes means more demand for (often adjunct) faculty, but maintenance can be deferred or service levels minimally reduced even as enrollment counts increase. Over the long run, more students means more staff. In the short term, the link is tenuous.

I'm hoping/expecting that no full-time sustainability staff get RIF'ed this year. For most colleges and universities, the message such a move would send isn't one that will help them in the marketplace. And staff folks often don't make big bucks anyway, so there's not a lot to be gained by eliminating a sustainability position.

Still, folks get nervous. One of the byproducts of living in interesting times.


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