MCC Daily Tribune
President's Wednesday Message
This week, the Wednesday Message addresses a question that has been asked of me in the hallway and via email. Thanks to those who felt comfortable asking it, and remember, if you have a question, you can ask me in person, via email or by submitting it anonymously through the portal.
At the last Trustee meeting, the president said several times that MCC needs to "manage employee headcount." What does that mean?
The salaries and benefits of MCC employees account for about 84% of our expenditures. As enrollment has declined so have College revenues, but the decrease in the number of full-time employees (i.e., employee headcount) has not kept pace. We need to be more active in managing the number of full-time employees so that it aligns with enrollment.
Over the years, MCC has taken a number of steps to manage employee headcount. For example, the College and the Faculty Association negotiated a full-time faculty number indexed to enrollment and a phased retirement option; MCC offered an early retirement incentive to employees in both unions; and divisions have reorganized and reassigned responsibilities following employee departures to reduce lines.
These steps have had some impact but not enough. As Board Chair Lovenheim and Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Ricotta wrote to the College community on February 25 about the Bonadio report:
While some may present this report as a dire prediction of the College's future, we see it as a clear depiction of the trend lines we must re-set if we are to remain fiscally strong. Declining enrollments? We must retain and recruit more students. Soaring expenses? We need to be more aggressive in managing employee headcount given that personnel costs make up 84% of our operating budget expenses.
The College is taking significant steps to increase student enrollment in both credit and non-credit programs, and we have tightened our focus on student retention. Since the Bonadio report, MCC has also implemented a vacancy management process linked to managing employee headcount. All open lines (e.g., from retirements, departures) are now required to go through a more rigorous screening to be considered for replacement. Some aspects of this review and likely outcomes are included below:
- The number of full-time teaching faculty at MCC currently exceeds by almost 60 the contractual index number negotiated by the FA and the College; so as faculty lines open, they are not likely to be filled.
- The number of non-teaching professionals has grown even as enrollment has declined. As non-teaching professional positions open, they are not likely to be filled. Instead, mission-critical responsibilities will be assigned to other employees/positions; if appropriate, these employees/positions will be reviewed for reclassification or promotion.
- The number of administrative positions has been relatively flat, but as these positions open, they will go through the same review as those of non-teaching professionals.
- The number of civil service positions has declined with enrollment, and these positions will continue to be reviewed as they open.
- For all lines but those of teaching faculty, the process now includes a requirement to review business processes and the use of College technologies now associated with the position.
- Whenever possible, we will continue to emphasize internal searches and the promotion process for the limited number of positions that are identified to be filled.
And, as some of you have already asked through the rumor portal, we are working on another retirement incentive proposal to present to the Board for its consideration. Please know that, given the financial projections facing MCC, this retirement incentive likely will look different from the 2016 proposal and will not be repeated for at least five years.
Finally, to the elephant in the room: layoffs. I know that you may be hearing from colleagues at other colleges (public and private) that are taking this path, and some of you may have friends and family who work outside of academia, in sectors where layoffs are all-too-common. MCC has had to consider layoffs as a budget-reduction option just once in the past, under President Spina. My understanding from him and others is that this was a last resort option, and thanks to collaboration across MCC, especially the leadership of our faculty, it was averted. I will be as plain as possible: at present, we are focused on the approaches outlined above and layoffs are not under consideration. They remain a last resort option.
You have committed to MCC: our College, our students, our mission. We are committed to you: as individuals; as valued faculty, staff, and administrators; as union members; as colleagues. All of us, however, must realize that this is a time of extraordinary and difficult change in higher education, and these changes are being accelerated for us because of the demographics of our region. As we always do--and do well--MCC will find a path forward. And, we will do it together.
As always, your comments and questions are welcome on the blog.
Office of the President