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President issues a "hiring pause"

Yesterday, the President issued the following message about a "hiring pause" (see below). As a result of this action, we will need to review carefully all hiring in the College. Searches that are in progress will be reviewed as well but I expect that most of them will move forward.


For the past several months, the University has been planning for potential changes in our overall revenue sources in light of global, national, and state economic conditions. I recently issued a statement to the University community underscoring the challenges we face, but also emphasizing the deliberate and responsible approach we’ve taken to make the case that the University of Minnesota should see increased investment in these difficult times. So while it is critical that we continue to make the best case we can for investment in the University, we must also seize every opportunity to maximize existing resources and dedicate them in the best ways to improve the quality, productivity and impact of the University.

In order to keep the University strong and not lose the gains we’ve made in recent years, we must be entrepreneurial about our work and look for ways to reduce cost and improve productivity without sacrificing excellence. If we are to retain and support our talented workforce, maintain access and affordability for students, and strengthen our quality and competitiveness, we must act decisively—now—to save money where we can.

In my recent memo concerning the mandatory approval of hires replacing Retirement Incentive Option Program (“RIO?) participants, I pointed out the critical necessity for all of us as University leaders to seize opportunities for the University to gain financially from retirements in order to reduce the level of non-voluntary workforce reductions during this time of challenging economic conditions. I also challenged us as a team to consider ways to reorganize work in all offices and units to take maximum advantage of potential gains to be realized through the RIO program results, not only as a means to avoid significant layoffs should our budget situation worsen, but also as a way to better align our workforce and streamline our operations.

Consistent with my earlier memo, I am now implementing a hiring pause University-wide to leverage the normal attrition of employees in each of your units. This will apply to both academic and administrative positions. I use the term pause intentionally. At this time, this is a temporary action, taken in the face of financial uncertainty that will provide the information required to assess how to maintain our exceptional faculty and staff while working thoughtfully to reduce our total expenses. This tool is only one of many you must consider in light of the economic situation. My commitment to our workforce – the key to our strength as a university – is a non-negotiable principle as we move steadily through these choppy waters.

To that end, I expect you to discuss your specific plans for those positions in your reporting line and units that are open, or may become open in the next few months, due to RIO and other normal attrition. These plans must be discussed with and approved by the executive to whom you report. You should include information on the role and importance of the position, including whether the position is essential to operations such as a critical health and safety function or ensuring that the University meets its academic and fiduciary responsibilities, and how the position fits in your overall strategic objectives. Absent approval for a hire, I ask you to delay the hiring and urge you to consider other strategies for the performance of the work. I have asked Vice President Carol Carrier to regularly report to me on the progress of the implementation of this pause. For those of you who have academic or administrative units reporting to you, I expect you to put in place mechanisms for reviewing and monitoring hiring.

We will learn more about the state’s revenue forecast in early December. Most sources are projecting a dramatic decline in state revenues. We anticipate additional clarity on the University’s financial support from the State of Minnesota when the Governor announces his recommendations on state spending in mid to late January 2009. This hiring pause will allow us to work together and plan for our workforce needs, as we work to best deploy our resources to serve our students, advance research, and serve the state of Minnesota.

Please communicate this information to your direct reports and others in your units as appropriate. Your leadership is most appreciated, as are your continued efforts on behalf of the University of Minnesota.

Robert H. Bruininks
University of Minnesota
phone: (612) 626-1616
fax: (612) 625-3875


Hello! Welcome, welcome to the blogosphere.

This is going to be a difficult time for all of us at the University of Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how the state of Minnesota will choose to support the University of Minnesota in the next few years.