CWU News

CWU Announces Workforce Reduction

Central Washington University President James L. Gaudino today announced the university is eliminating 56 permanent positions in Ellensburg or about 3 percent of the school’s permanent workforce. The layoffs will take effect on November 6, 2020.

“We recently received our tenth-day enrollment numbers, which are used to determine our budget for the year, and despite a record-breaking number of new applications, we experienced a drop of 597 undergraduate and graduate students,” Gaudino explained. “We have also had to limit the number of students living in campus housing to less than half of our normal occupancy due to the need for physical distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gaudino said having fewer students enrolled and living in campus housing has had a serious impact on the university’s budget and is the reason for the elimination of the positions.

“These are not decisions I wanted to make, but they are necessary for the long-term health of the university,” he said. “These reductions are on top of 140 vacant positions we eliminated earlier this year.”

The university also implemented a hiring freeze and cut out all travel and major equipment purchases, starting in March, in response to the outbreak of the virus.

The president said the eliminated positions fall in Housing, Dining Services, Facilities, Computing, and Enrollment Management, and reflect the fact those functions are either not needed or the need has been reduced as a result of having fewer students.

The layoffs are permanent, although laid-off employees may apply for university positions in the future when the budget situation improves. CWU will abide by all contracts and policy language regarding layoff and recall processes.

Gaudino noted that there will be no furloughs or FTE reductions during December 2020.

“We also anticipate Washington State funding will be reduced as result of the state economy. We have been instructed by the governor to prepare for a 15 percent reduction in state funding or nearly $10 million annually during the next two years,” he continued.

“This means more positions likely will have to be eliminated in response to the anticipated state budget cuts, although we don’t have a timetable or other specific information about any additional reductions.”

Staci Sleigh-Layman, Executive Director of CWU Human Resources, said her office is prepared to assist affected employees.

“All laid off employees will have benefit coverage for the month of November and remain eligible for unemployment insurance,” she said. “We have also created an outplacement resources website to assist those employees.”

Sleigh-Layman said members of her staff will reach out to each impacted employee to provide resources and have teamed with Career Services and WorkSource to provide information on job searches, resume writing, and other services.