SFCC hiring freeze to continue

Published: Friday, January 4, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Santa Fe Community College employees are going to hear a familiar message at this morning's convocation.

Despite a likely increase in enrollment, a hiring freeze will remain in place.

SFCC President Jackson Sasser said the hiring freeze needs to continue because of uncertainty over whether the state will make additional budget cuts.

The community college employs about 800 people full-time, another 800 or so part-time and enrolls about 17,000 students each semester. Sasser said the total annual budget is about $118 million. The ongoing operating costs are approximately $65 million and salaries make up around 80 percent of those costs.

The state cut 4 percent from the school's operating costs for the fall semester as part of a statewide spending cutback. Sasser said that in anticipation of another such cut this semester, hiring was frozen during the fall.

"We are anticipating another 4 percent cut in state revenue and we would rather not release employees, so we will continue not filling positions," Sasser said.

The irony is that enrollment is increasing at a time when funding is decreasing.

"This is counter-cyclical," Sasser said. "As the economy declines, enrollment goes up."

Exceptions have been made for vacancies in what Sasser was convinced by his staff were critical positions.

On Thursday afternoon, the vice president of student affairs, Portia Taylor, was working with Sasser on how to fill a full-time faculty position because leaving the job empty could have jeopardized accreditation for some health science programs.

Other jobs, for example those in the campus police department, would not be frozen because the vacancies could jeopardize the security and safety of the students and the campus, Sasser said.

Sasser's decision to continue the hiring freeze will be announced during spring convocation, beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the gymnasium at the Northwest campus at 300 NW 83rd St.

Also on the convocation agenda is a tribute to SFCC's former Master Artist in Residence, Alberto Alonso. The choreographer who immigrated from Cuba died on Monday.

Professor Naima Prince will give a keynote address on international education at SFCC. University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley is also scheduled to speak.

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-359-5656 or kvoyles@gmail.com.

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