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Some layoffs 'impossible to avoid' as Penn State budget cuts take hold

Old Main administrative building
Emily Reddy
Old Main administrative building

As Penn State deals with what it is calling a structural deficit and cutting funding to some of its departments, layoffs will be part of the picture in at least one college.

The College of Engineering expects to have layoffs, although the exact number has not been announced.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Engineering is facing a “historic structural budget deficit."

"The College of Engineering is working to address its budget challenges via a number of steps, however, given that a majority of the college’s budget is designated for salaries and benefits for employees, it will be impossible to avoid some layoffs," Powers said in an email.

Powers said “the number of positions impacted will be as limited as possible,” and that they’re looking at all options, including attrition.

The College of Engineering has the most students of any of the colleges at University Park. It's slated to get $107 million in base funding from the university in the next fiscal year, which is about 1% or $1 million less than it's getting this year.

It comes as the university is addressing a $140 million budget shortfall out of a $3 billion general funds budget. The university also is switching how it earmarks money to its units. Starting next fiscal year, some units — such as the colleges of Health and Human Development and Information Sciences and Technology — will see their base funding go up by more than 4%, while others — including the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of Education — will see theirs drop by 4%. Some will see decreases for two years in a row.

In a budget update letter, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi wrote that some units might have to take steps such as cutting the number of employees, delaying new programs or making structural changes.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.