RYERSON FLIRTS WITH PROF BUYOUTS

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By Amit Shilton

News Editor

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy is considering faculty buyouts as the school plans to cut its 2009-10 operating budget by three to five per cent.

Levy said he wants to keep the layoffs to a minimum, but acknowledges that some will be inevitable.

“Our objective is to minimize it,” Levy said.

He said the university won’t discriminate when it comes to the cutbacks, preparing to cut ties with employees at all rungs. It’s a move the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) doesn’t necessarily see as a bad thing.

RFA President Dave Mason understands the university’s need to clean house.

He says that about 15 years ago the university offered the RFA a fairly significant buyout package that some people took advantage of. He expects that some people will bite at the package offered this time around too.

Levy believes the university is a community based on trust and respect where everyone is valued, no matter how much money each is making.

“We have limited the number of new, full-time academic appointments and [we’re] getting crapped on,” Levy said. “Will I hire the $150,000 person and fire the five people down here at $30,000? I don’t think so.

“It doesn’t matter if you are the lowest paid, new employees or the highest paid, tenure-stream employee, or you’re a VP or whatever. There is going to be fairness and transparency, and we are going to make changes to minimize layoffs.”

Sheila O’Neill, a tenured professor in the Learning and Teaching Office at Ryerson, doesn’t think full-time profs are easily replaceable parts of the university.

“I think that tenured profs are the university, they run the university,” said O’Neill, who has been working as a tenured professor for about 20 years. “We are it. Take that away and what do you got?”

O’Neill, who is at an age where she could be considering retirement, has experience with contract talks. She used to be the president of the Ryerson sector of the Canadian Union of Education Workers, now the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“There’s something wrong with this picture,” she said. “The Ryerson Faculty Association would never put up with that idea.”

Mason said that for the buyouts to work, more people will be hired than lost. “

At this point the RFA is looking to increase numbers, not decrease,” Mason said. “If it would translate to more hiring overall — it might be interesting. If not, it might be a problem.”

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