|Dillard University reduces payroll, plans for spring semester|
Nov. 15, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Storm debris is piled in front of an entrance to Dillard University following Hurricane Katrina.
A UMNS Report*
By Linda Green
Two hundred and two faculty and staff members at United
Methodist-related Dillard University were to receive their final
paychecks Nov. 15.
The reduction in the work force by the historically-black college
comes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which left behind nearly
$400 million in damages on the campus when it roared across New Orleans
and the Gulf Coast Aug. 29.
Despite the progress being made daily on the New Orleans campus since
the hurricane, Dillard University officials announced Nov. 1 that it
would make a 60 percent reduction in the number of employees on the
The school will retain all 43 of its tenured faculty and 99 staff
members when it begins the spring semester Jan. 9, said Maureen Larkins,
director of university communications. The laid-off employees will
retain their medical benefits through the end of 2005.
“Our university was devastated by Hurricane Katrina,” said Dillard
President Marvalene Hughes in a Nov. 1 media release. “Since this
catastrophic natural disaster wreaked unparalled damage on our campus,
Dillard University has done everything possible to keep all faculty and
staff on its payroll — and has done so for the past two months. Dillard
did not have any operating revenue during that time but was able to meet
its payroll through other alternatives,” she said.
The layoffs are the first such action taken by Dillard, Hughes said. “At
this time, it is unclear whether the reduction in force will be
temporary, as the university has been unable to identify the full
effects of Hurricane Katrina on the campus. It is the university’s hope,
however, that it will be able to re-employ displaced employees in the
future if enrollment and other circumstances permit. Dillard is
currently working with other universities to aid placement of displaced
For two months, the school’s officials have worked in offices in
Washington and Atlanta, and many of the more than 1,500 students have
enrolled in other historically black institutions while retaining
academic credit from Dillard.
The reduction of the work force was“an extremely difficult decision,”
Hughes said. The contributions the employees made to Dillard “is deeply
appreciated, and we wish them the best during this challenging period,”
The university is not using its 135-year-old New Orleans campus at
this time, according to Larkins. All 20 buildings on campus sustained
damage from water and winds, and three campus residential buildings were
burned by fire. Hundreds of people have been working daily to restore
the campus, and it has been cleared of water, mold, mildew and debris,
she said. “We are engaged in assessing building by building to see what
needs to be done.”
Dillard signed a memorandum of understanding with Tulane University,
also in New Orleans, to obtain temporary facilities while the campus
undergoes extensive repairs. Classes will begin in January at satellite
sites of Tulane across New Orleans.
Tenured professors will offer Dillard’s academic core programs,
augmented by non-tenured faculty, and the 14-1 student-faculty ratio
will be maintained to ensure the university continues to offer the
finest education possible to its students, Hughes said.
The university is on a mission to return to being a “superior learning institution,” she said.
“Our efforts to secure federal and private support continue, and we
will leave no stone unturned to identify the support necessary to secure
Dillard’s future. This was a catastrophic event that nearly destroyed
our beloved university. Despite that, we are working day and night to
bring Dillard back, and we will return it to its former glory and aspire
to make it even better.”
Donations for Dillard’s recovery can be made at www.gbhem.org/hurricaneresponse.html
or sent to the Dillard Hurricane Relief Fund, c/o The General Board of
Higher Education and Ministry, P.O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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