Georgia Perimeter College is facing a growing budget deficit and to relieve some of that burden, that more than 250 employees were be laid off, Interim President Rob Watts announced June 18.
In a message sent to staff, Watts said he deeply regretsted the personnel reductions of 215 full-time and 67 part-time employees. In May, he released a plan to reduce the deficit that included reducing personnel costs, which represents more than 90 percent of the college’s expenditures.
Originally, Watts said 185 jobs would be cut to help bridge the estimated $25 million budget gap but the number of reductions has grown since then.
“I have spent the past three weeks working with the vice presidents to review the college’s initiatives against its core teaching mission and the staffing levels of the college’s various departments and divisions,” Watts said in his most recent message about the layoffs.
Watts said no tenured or tenure-track employees are part of the staff reductions but that all other areas will be affected by the layoffs. He said the college’s first priority in making the reductions was ensuring the quality of classroom instruction.
“We will be closing a number of internal institutes. All of these centers do good work and represent excellent initiatives. The difficult decision that had to be made in light of our budget constraints was the degree to which these initiatives reflected our core teaching mission,” Watts said.
The college will be providing computer resources and outplacement training for the employees who were laid off, Watts said. Additionally, he said their resumes will be forwarded to other institutions in the University System of Georgia (USG).
“I want to express my deep appreciation to these staff employees for the work that they have done for GPC and the assistance they have given to students, either directly or indirectly. If you have ever been through this kind of work transition, you will know how important the support of close friends and colleagues is during this period,” Watts said.
In early May, Watts was appointed by USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby to replace former President Anthony Tricoli, who stepped down after a $16 million budget deficit was discovered. Since then, the projected deficit has grown to $25 million because the college is required to pay back a $9 million loan next year.
Initially, Tricoli was reassigned to work in the college’s central office but recent reports state that at the end of June, Tricoli will no longer be employed by the college. According to reports, Tricoli claims to have known nothing about the details of the growing deficit and has alleged fraudulent behavior by key financial personnel.
John Millsaps, a USG spokesman, said Tricoli’s employment application was not renewed by the Board of Regents, the governing body of the USG, for fiscal year 2013. Millsaps also said there is a current investigation of GPC being conducted by the USG’s audit department.
Additionally, reports have stated the Georgia Attorney General’s Office is performing an investigation related to Tricoli’s fraud accusations. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Sam Olens said, as a matter of policy, she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.
This is the second time Watts has served as interim president of GPC, the first being from 2005-06.
In addition to cutting personnel, Watts’ plan calls for a $6 million reduction in operating expenses by eliminating “non-essential” travel; reducing expenses for supplies and materials; reducing advertising and marketing; and delaying technology upgrades.
Watts said there may be reductions of “a larger or smaller number of limited-term and part-time faculty members” in the fall, which will be based on enrollment numbers.
“Our goal is for these staff reductions to have the smallest possible effect on students,” Watts said.