Arizona Daily Star 2010

Several hundred jobs could be cut as the University of Arizona struggles to manage deep budget cuts proposed by state leaders.

This comes on top of more than 600 jobs eliminated since 2009 as the state cut 25 percent of its appropriation to the UA.

Gov. Jan Brewer wants the UA to take a $67 million state budget cut next year.

The Arizona Board of Regents ordered the UA to absorb $39 million of that in reduced spending. The UA plans to make up the rest by raising tuition and spending reserves.

The UA now is outlining how the $39 million in cuts will work.

"If 85-90 percent of your state budget is in people, the only way you save is by not filling those positions or eliminating positions," UA President Robert Shelton said.

For the first time in this budget crisis, the UA is offering buyouts, and 52 senior faculty members have accepted.

That's about 20 percent of those eligible for the voluntary retirement incentive program, which would give a faculty member one year's pay to retire at the end of this school year.

Shelton had hoped the program would save about $10 million after the UA uses cash reserves for the buyout and replaces some of the tenured faculty with lower-cost teachers, but it will take time to know the actual savings.

For the UA to make up the remaining $29 million in job cuts, it would need to eliminate 580 positions with an average pay and benefits package of $50,000. For perspective, that's around 10 percent of classified staff jobs.

While that number is only a very rough estimate, Shelton said several hundred jobs could be cut next year.

A hiring freeze for state-funded jobs that has been in effect since 2008 will continue.

The UA's budget plan doesn't account for the possibility of deeper cuts from the state. Senate leaders want another $25 million in cuts next year on top of the governor's proposed $67 million cut.

"The state Senate's proposal would take this institution back to the funding level of more than 20 years ago," Shelton said.

Did you know

The state's appropriation to the UA this year is $344 million, down from $432 million in fiscal year 2008.

Coming Sunday

Find out where the UA ranks in the annual Star 200 survey of Southern Arizona's largest employers.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 807-8012.

University of Arizona employee salary information as of October 2010