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Friday, February 13, 2009

Impact of Tough Times

This month's ASTD big question is What is the impact of the economy on you and your organization? What are you doing as a result? I wish I could say my bonus this year is only going to be $11 million instead of the usual $22 million but I don't work on Wall Street...I do not receive bonuses in good or bad times.

So, here at Bloomsburg University, where I am a professor, it is a state run university. Bloomsburg is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), with 14 universities and more than 112,500 students. It is the largest higher education provider in Pennsylvania and cuts are being made. (Penn State is not one of the 14 state universities. It is state affiliated, not state owned.)

First, our Chancellor, John C. Cavanaugh, announced 128 positions at the 14 PASSHE universities and in the Office of the Chancellor will not be filled during the current fiscal year. Additionally, salaries of all non-union employees also will be frozen for at least six months.The salary freeze will affect approximately 1,500 managers, administrators and other non-union employees across the State System.

Second, PASSHE’s Board of Governors in October agreed to a request by Governor Edward G. Rendell to return $22 million of the state funding the State System expected to receive this year. Those returned funds will help the Commonwealth address an expected $2.3 billion budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. The $22 million is equal to 4.25 percent of the nearly $520 million PASSHE expected to receive as part of the 2008-09 state budget.

So, the impact is large on the organization and I feel that more budget cuts, hiring freezes and program reductions might be in the future as we are entirely state funded.

One thing that we are doing as a departmetn is increasing our recruitment efforts. We want potential students to know that a career in instructional technology is still a lucrative and viable career option and that companies are moving to e-learning in tough times.

We have a number of initiatives to use social media to further our outreach which are low cost and, we hope, high impact.

We also are stepping up our work to let potential students know that we still have Graduate Assistantships which help cover most of all the tuition for our year long program to take some of the sting out of returning to school to further career choices.


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