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Drew University to lay off 10% of faculty and staff

Between 35 and 40 people will be laid off, and contributions to all employees' retirement funds have been suspended, officials said. Job and salary cuts are expected to take effect in early March.

February 07, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science will lay off 10% of its faculty and staff and slash executive salaries in an effort to reduce annual expenses by $10 million, officials said.

Between 35 and 40 people will be laid off, and contributions to all employees' retirement funds have been suspended, officials said.

"It's terrible," said Dr. Susan Kelly, president and chief executive of the university in Willowbrook, south of Watts. "We were in pretty good shape in June, but . . . our normal sources of funds dried up."

Kelly said that the university has suffered a roughly 10% loss on its investments since September and that donor funding and state and federal grants are down.

"It's been escalating out of control," Kelly said of the economy. She said the reductions were unavoidable and were planned to help the university survive tough economic times.

"If we can make this work and cut other expenses and get some breathing room, then we can get through this," she said.

Under the new plan, executive salaries will be reduced by 10%, and employees making over $42,000 a year will have their salaries cut by 5%. Travel and overtime also will be severely curtailed, officials said.

The job and salary cuts are expected to take effect in early March.

Kelly said she hoped this would be the only round of staff reductions. But she added that no one knows "what's around the corner with the economy."

The budget cuts come as many universities and colleges around the country are struggling with their own fiscal problems. The University of California recently cut its incoming freshman enrollment to help head off expected state budget cuts.

Student enrollment at Drew -- which has about 352 students, most of them black and Latino -- was not affected by the cuts, Kelly said.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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