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Major staff layoffs expected

Despite+a+tightening+budget%2C+DePaul+key+employees+saw+increases+in+their+total+compensations.
Despite a tightening budget, DePaul key employees saw increases in their total compensations.

Despite a tightening budget, DePaul key employees saw increases in their total compensations.

Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Despite a tightening budget, DePaul key employees saw increases in their total compensations.

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Serious layoffs are likely coming to DePaul. DePaul officials said that the process is “not yet finalized” and any staff reductions “would go into effect before July 1,” which is the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Several current DePaul employees described to The DePaulia a culture of fear and opacity on the part of the university regarding their employment. Almost all asked to remain anonymous for fear of job security.

“I’m hearing there are going to be at least 200 people laid off in June,” said an administrative assistant currently employed by DePaul.

The employee said that over the last six months, many of their duties have been “slowly stripped away” from them. They believe it is a calculated effort to make them disposable or subject to termination.

“If you take everyone’s work away, you can justify getting rid of them,” they said.

“Everybody around the university has been chatting about layoffs,” said one DePaul professor. “Even the security guards are asking me if (my job is safe).”

In order to confirm the reality of layoffs, The DePaulia contacted several key DePaul officials on Wednesday.

Instead, The DePaulia received a response on Thursday afternoon from Carol Hughes, from the Office of Public Relations and Communications (OPRC). Hughes referenced the university-approved budget from March that would invest in “strategic growth through major cost-saving measures and reductions in the (2019 fiscal year) budget.”

“From its earliest communications about the process, the university has noted that the review and centralization of key financial, administrative and technology functions could result in staffing reductions and that such restructuring changes would go into effect before July 1,” wrote Hughes in an email.

Hughes noted that faculty positions would not be a part of the restructuring process.

The DePaulia asked Hughes: how many staff members would be terminated, what departments would be affected, how much money would be saved from the staff cuts and how many days notice would be given to terminated staff.

“The process is nearing completion, but not yet finalized,” Hughes wrote.

And, as a result, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”

Terry Smith, law professor and chair of DePaul University’s Black Leadership Coalition (DPUBLC), sent a formal request for reduction in force data — among many other requests — to the university, on Feb. 26. Over the last four months Smith sent multiple follow up requests but never received the data he requested.

Finally, on March 26, the university told Smith that they needed more time to process his request.

But Smith is not satisfied with the university’s inability to fulfill his request in what he considers to be a timely manner.

“If the university, and specifically Dr. (Elizabeth) Ortiz and Associate Provost (Lawrence) Hamer, ever intended to respond substantively to DPUBLC’s requests, it could have done so weeks ago,” he told the DePaulia Wednesday.

On Tuesday, The DePaulia reached out to university officials, asking why Smith’s request for reduction in force data had not yet been met. On Wednesday, Hughes wrote that the university was still in the process of authoring a report that would be accurate.

“The information is being carefully vetted to ensure accuracy and expressly reviewed to ensure confidential personnel matters and/or competitive data remain so. The report will also outline efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion across campus. Upon completion, the report will be shared with the campus community, including DPUBLC.”

But Smith argues that “any suggestion that the information sought is proprietary or intrudes on the right of the confidentiality of individual employees is simply insupportable.”

On Thursday, two days after The DePaulia’s original inquiry, Smith received a response from the administration stating that the university hopes to have the report “completed by mid-June.”

On Saturday, Smith received an email from Provost Martin denBoer that, he believes, was not intended for him. Smith believes that denBoer hit “reply all” by accident. The email reads as follows:

“It’s increasingly apparent that this is a fishing expedition,” wrote denBoer. “We need to consult before responding, if at all.”

The DePaulia reached out to denBoer asking him to clarify what he meant by a “fishing expedition,” but received no response by the time of publication.

Shannon Stone-Winding runs a consulting firm and has worked with DePaul in the past. She is also an ASK mentor and an adult student at DePaul. She said because enrollment is down, it makes sense that serious cuts will need to be made.

“You have to think about the history of the university,” she said. “(DePaul) used to be ‘the little school under the El,’ then they grew extremely fast, and the way they set up the university doesn’t really match the growth.”

DePaul’s undergraduate enrollment peaked in 2012 at over 16,000 students. But lately enrollment has continued to decline. From 2016 to 2017 enrollment declined from 15,407 to 14,816 students, according to the university website.

Several faculty members told The DePaulia that the faculty has been pushing hard to get data from the university on how staff cuts were made over the last few years. So far, their requests have been unsuccessful.

Some faculty members have grown so concerned with the current climate that they have decided to call a “Council of the Whole,” a tool available to faculty in order to garner attention and to help pass motions and initiatives. The last attempt at a council was in 2011, but it was unsuccessful.

Faculty have already secured more than the 50 faculty signatures needed to call such a meeting. Dr. Bamshad Mobasher, president of the faculty council, said that “obviously the individuals initiating the council have grievances” with the university.

“Part of the goal is to bring in faculty to center around a set of issues and get more participation,” he said. “Politically, it’s very significant.”

At a time when DePaul has raised tuition while also getting ready for staff cuts and restructuring, many of its top employees are collecting lucrative salaries. The average total compensation for DePaul’s key — or top paid — employees average at over $400,000 a year, according to data obtained via DePaul’s 990 form published on Guidestar.

Additionally, many key officials reported large increases in compensation from 2016 to 2017. Provost denBoer reported a base pay of $227,231 in 2016, but in 2017 his base pay nearly doubled to $451,853.

Executive Vice President Jeff Bethke reported a base pay of $236,997 in 2016. In 2017, Bethke’s base pay rose to $392,211.

Out of the 21 key employees listed on both the 2016 and 2017 990 form, every single employee reported a higher compensation than the year prior. The average amount of increase in compensation was over $48,000 per key employee. Each key employee saw an 11.87 percent increase in total compensation.

DePaul has also recently launched its “first brand advertising campaign in over seven years,” according to DePaul Newsline, the university’s PR publication. Although the total cost of the advertising campaign is not public information, The DePaulia confirmed the cost of DePaul’s Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) advertising initiatives.

DePaul spent approximately $480,000 on CTA ads that run on trains, platforms and buses, according to the public relations department at Intersection, the CTA’s marketing agency.

In a March Newsline article, President A. Gabirel Esteban said that DePaul would “continue to invest” in its employees.

But with the upper level administration continuing to look for ways to save money, many DePaul staff members will be holding their breath — hoping they aren’t next on the chopping block.

31 Comments

31 Responses to “Major staff layoffs expected”

  1. Change At DPU on May 29th, 2018 9:49 am

    Jean Lenti Ponsetto is making $413,000 a year to continue to ruin our flagship Men’s Basketball program. Let that sink in. #FireJLP

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    Amen! I’m sure the Lenti gravy train will continue despite the cuts. Rotten to the core and lack of success to boot.

    [Reply]

  2. Staff member on May 30th, 2018 8:52 am

    This year of reporting from the DePaulia is the best I’ve seen in my long tenure at DePaul. Bravo!

    [Reply]

  3. Tanya Breva on May 30th, 2018 7:21 pm

    The comment from “Jeff Bethke” was deleted. Too bad. The parody did raise some good questions:

    Why was Jeff Bethke given the title of CFO when he was already the Executive Vice President of Finance?

    How could the DIrector of Procurement become the Executive Vice President of Finance?

    Why was he given the $162K raise?

    There is a right way and a wrong way to reduce the size of the workforce. Everything about his approach I’ve been hearing from friends is just wrong.

    [Reply]

    dpustaff Reply:

    He was not given a $162K raise in the same position. He obtained a new position as EVP in January 2016, so the previous year’s data reflects his previous position as Treasurer.

    [Reply]

    dpustaff 2 Reply:

    Speaking of Treasurer, let’s talk about how Bethke got rid of Santino, his successor. Everyone but Bethke was impressed with him. Was he a threat to Bethke? Did he discover things that would have made Bethke look bad?

    A 162K raise is wrong no matter how you slice it.

    [Reply]

    dpustaff3 Reply:

    So the question is, is it irresponsible to misrepresent this data in your published (but clearly unedited) article, or is it just shoddy journalism?

    [Reply]

    dpustaff3 Reply:

    By the way, how are you gonna go and spell the President’s name wrong?

  4. Concerned Blue Demon on May 30th, 2018 7:28 pm

    The provost’s compensation increase is also quite significant between 16-17, and yet, the 16 rate seems low for that kind of position. This would have been his first and second year. Would be interesting anyone from the university will address this on the record in light of the cuts being made.

    Also – since when are private university salaries public information?

    [Reply]

    dpustaff Reply:

    The latest 990 available is for tax year 2016, which was filed in February 2018. The DePaulia is comparing 2015 and 2016 data as those are the two latest years available. Marten denBoer started as provost in July 2015, which is why his compensation is lower for that year, because it was not a complete year of salary.

    Salaries of officers, key employees, and top paid employees are public information for any tax-exempt nonprofit organization in the United States.

    [Reply]

    Concerned Blue Demon Reply:

    Very useful and important clarification! Thanks.

    [Reply]

  5. DPU Employee on May 30th, 2018 8:11 pm

    I am a current staff member. I welcome this summer’s changes. I don’t feel that it was justified to have raised undergraduate tuition more than $12,000/year in the past ten years to (at least in part) support a massive staff workforce. I am glad that our administration is making some tough choices before it is too late; we are extremely tuition-dependent and things could get very bad very quickly if enrollment were to drop precipitously. It wouldn’t be pleasant to lose my job, but fortunately I have kept up my skills and I live in Chicago where jobs are reasonably abundant, so I’m confident that I would be able to find another if it came to that.

    [Reply]

    DPU Employee is Clearly Fake Reply:

    Horrible impersonation of a staff member.

    [Reply]

    dpustaff 2 Reply:

    “It wouldn’t be pleasant to lose my job, but fortunately I have kept up my skills and I live in Chicago where jobs are reasonably abundant, so I’m confident that I would be able to find another if it came to that.”

    –Says no one

    [Reply]

    DPU FT Reply:

    Says no one except Bethke pretending to be a staff member.

    Here’s a free tip, Bethke. Good leadership, is forgoing salaries at the top as a gesture of good will, while those around you are being laid off, because of you.

    Not just that, you’re about to cause a huge failure in productivity due to literally zero planning around centralizing IT and administrative personnel. How can you be so bad at this?

    Spouse of Released DePaul Family Reply:

    It’s amazing how 5 days ago. With 1 little click of radio our whole lives changed.
    No more DePaul. No more overtime.
    No more scholarship for my baby girl.
    Awful!
    If you were in facilities Monday when 8 longtime employees were released ur ♥️ would be breaking.
    Grown men hugging & crying.
    What happened to FAMILY?!?
    That left when the collar left – as stated in the article.
    St Vincent DePaul would be ashamed that 200 families lost jobs
    friends (NOW ♥️‘D as family)
    SCHOLARSHIPS –
    Stability & PEACE OF MIND
    so the wealthy can get wealthier!?
    I don’t understand!! And who pays for it in the long run? The students! But its ok…. the basketball team just got a multi million dollar building they cant PAY THE STUDENTS to go to! Im sick. I cant sleep & now my HIGH HONORS -DEANS LIST every semester with a 3.52 GPA in all honors classes student just lost her education cuz the greedy need more? Sad 😞 Sad 😞 Day for DePaul families today

    [Reply]

  6. John Morkon on May 30th, 2018 11:00 pm

    Who raises actual funding for the school? Their jobs just got a lot harder as this is awful use of funds. Rich getting richer while others are let go or forced to stay in same position. And at end of the day the kiddos and parents get screwed.

    [Reply]

  7. dpustu on May 31st, 2018 11:06 am

    Feeling very concerned…

    [Reply]

  8. DP Parent on May 31st, 2018 1:18 pm

    Excellent and informative article that should be discussed openly. To raise salaries of the top employees that would equate to 1, 2, or 3 other persons salaries….how ethical is THAT??? To provide some perspective….I also work full-time (not at DP) and I don’t know if my job is secure either over the next two weeks or month or year and SHOCKINGLY my CEO just got a 5X raise while we got 2.5%. So while we ask our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parents to volunteer, donate, and be ethical in THEIR words and deeds, our board and leaders stuff their pockets rationalizing their great contributions to our university. Shame on them.

    [Reply]

    DPUemployee 20 years Reply:

    I am aghast that they are giving people 11 % raises while the rest of the staff is fighting for 2% (3% if you get an outstanding review). So departments have been cut so bad that they are being skipped. Meanwhile other departments are cutting people and then hiring a new position 1 month later. FYI: The university has been doing this layoffs every year for the past four years. The cuts begin on Monday June 4th right in the middle of finals week. Tells you how much they are about the students.

    [Reply]

    Spouse of 1/200 DP employeres released Reply:

    Awful! If you were in facilities today when 8 longtime employees were released you wouldn’t be saying such words. Grown men hugging & crying. What happened to FAMILY?!? That left when the collar left – as stated in the article. St Vincent DePaul would be ashamed that 200 families lost jobs friends (NOW ♥️‘D as family) SCHOLARSHIPS Stability & PEACE OF MIND so the wealthy can get wealthier!? I don’t understand!! And who pays for it in the long run? The students! But its ok…. the basketball team just got a multi million dollar building they cant PAY THE STUDENTS to go to! Im sick. I cant sleep & now my HIGH HONORS -DEANS LIST every semester with a 3.52 GPA in all honors classes student just lost her education cuz the greedy need more? Sad 😞 Sad 😞 Day for DePaul families today

    [Reply]

  9. Grace Collins on May 31st, 2018 5:19 pm

    I’m a DePaul graduate. I worked for DePaul when it was “The little school under the “El” and then again from 2010 to 2014. I worked in DePaul Central Contact Center when it opened. We were treated so badly by our Mgmt that that sadistic manager was removed. All human resourse laws were broken but that person could because we were mislead to believe we were hired as part time workers (which means benefits). It seems we we were some special class temporary part time. Never told to us so we had no benefits or hope to get them.

    Then I moved to accounts payable. I caught such abuse of the mission of St Vincent DePaul. We were supposed to be there to help educate the immigrants and the poor. Instead I got in trouble for questioning “gifts” and expensive meals. How about the exclusive health club memberships that must be paid before all else because those entitled little brats don’t want to embarrassed if the bill was late. Seriously. So much waste and abuse University wide.. I was deeply ashamed of the ethics I saw in power in my second stint at DePaul. I could not wait to leave the place because it is not the same wonderful spirited place that it was when it was the school I graduated from.

    [Reply]

  10. Weng Zeu on June 1st, 2018 5:31 am

    Jeff Bethke’s bio: https://www.depaul.edu/about/administration/Pages/bethke.aspx It goes on and on and on. I am surprised he has time to run the university, Why too does he need two titles? He is not Khaleesi.

    [Reply]

  11. dpugrunt on June 4th, 2018 6:11 pm

    shouldn’t the powers that be also tighten their proverbial belts during times of enrollment to help spare the actual worker bees? it’s shameful that we have resorted to the tactics of big banks. NOT the vincentian way. vinny would be turning over in his grave right now. the “here we do” campaign is so laughable at a time like this. what a crock.

    [Reply]

  12. LOGIN HOTMAIL on June 4th, 2018 10:37 pm

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any methods to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d certainly appreciate it.
    http://hotmailsigninaz.net

    [Reply]

  13. Caden Sage on June 5th, 2018 3:43 am

    This is my story, a true life story on how I survived an abusive husband(s). Please read and share.

    Leaving an abusive marriage was life threatening, I was scared of the post-divorce lifestyle. I felt starting afresh with another man seems impossible at my age because my husband(s) always downplays my emotions making me feel like a worthless woman. Yes, I was married thrice.

    I was betrayed by a friend, cheated upon by husband(s), beaten, jailed but I never gave up, I chose to ride or die with my current 5-year-old marriage because of love, our children and our shared finance. Though I love my husband to a fault and believed I can change his mindset through spiritual means before we go our separate ways.

    After domestic abuse and emotional conflicts comes spiritual father, Dr. Wakina with redemption and restoration via dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com with the spell that ended my abusive circle. I also escaped social pressure.

    I wasn’t wrong afterall sticking to my husband and changing our lifestyle through spiritual doctors. Believe me, we’re living our dream lifestyle for over 5-months with much love and respect for each other.

    [Reply]

    Shocked Reply:

    I wish that I’d been reading the DePaulia before now because this experience has been a shocking and saddening. So many who have been here for many years are now gone. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I do know who holds the future. My prayer is that DePaul continues to be viable because many lives have been changed here. God bless us all to see your hand in all of this and to take hold.

    [Reply]

  14. Greg on June 11th, 2018 12:32 pm

    This timeline looks off:

    “on Feb. 26”

    “Over the last four months” [your story was published three months after this Feb. 26 request]

    “Finally, on March 26, the university told Smith that they needed more time to process his request” [one month after the request is not “the last four months”]

    [Reply]

  15. Miraclespellhome@yahoo.com on June 12th, 2018 5:32 am

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    [Reply]

  16. Tonya G. on June 17th, 2018 7:50 pm

    Can a university president be impeached? Arrogance and ignorance are a terrible combination.

    [Reply]

    Andrew L Reply:

    No, he can’t be impeached, but trustees can remove him.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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