IU Foundation terminates 18 staff members

The layoffs came in the wake of a $2.4 million deficit and a 10 percent decrease in the Foundation’s budget for this fiscal year.

For the past several months the Foundation has made reductions in programs, operating costs and made use of attrition, said Barbara Coffman, executive director of strategic planning and communications at the Foundation. But now it has to resort to layoffs.

The IU Foundation had employed 201 people and the reductions came from all over the organization and from varying seniority levels in both the Bloomington and Indianapolis offices, she said. Coffman declined to comment on how many of the layoffs were in each office.

Coffman said the Foundation was looking at consolidating operations and looking at efficiency, but wouldn’t discuss specifics.

Similar to other campus organizations and the University itself, the Foundation has dealt with a severe budget crisis, Coffman said. Specifically, the endowment is down. A management fee from the endowment pays for “a good portion” of the Foundation’s budget, she said.

Most of the rest of the budget comes from a development service fee paid by the University, which hasn’t been reduced, she said.

The endowment fell 23 percent in the last fiscal year, going from $1.5 billion June 30, 2008 to $1.2 billion June 30, 2009.

In February’s State of the University Speech, IU President Michael McRobbie said the endowment used to be about $1.6 billion but fell to as low as $1.1 billion. It’s now closer to $1.3 billion, he said.

However, the laid-off employees will have some help.

“We were able to give the departing employees a severance package, financial assistance and career transition counseling,” Coffman said.

She added the management at the Foundation has been talking openly with the full staff about the budget situation since fall.

Coffman said the Foundation looked at various ways to address the budget issue and even got ideas from the staff. Those were looked at to see which ideas would work and then were reviewed by senior management. But for 18 employees, today was their last day.

However, she added that there’s no reason to think the Foundation would lay anyone else off, and it would continue to be careful with its budget.

“We can’t make any guarantees, but we hope we don’t have to do this again,” Coffman said.

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