Part of my morning ritual consists of listening to local NPR affiliate station KUT, which intersperses snippets of local news along with the national and global news that NPR reports on “Morning Edition.” This morning, I heard that big local employer UT Austin just laid 25 people off in its Information Technology Services office. Sure enough, I just checked the local news headings on the station Web site and there it is: “UT Lays Off IT Workers.” The official explanation reads “…the staff reduction is part of UT efforts to cut costs during the economic recession.”
This is pretty interesting, and of course, also tragic for those involved (though the story does say that 3 out of the 25 people affected will be offered other campus IT jobs). Here are some interesting nuggets of information — factoids, if you will — that this news suggests to me:
- The latest data I can find for university endowments by size is for 2007, which shows Texas at Number 5, behind Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton in that order. Interesting that an institution with what was then a $15 endowment feels the need to trim IT staff. Disclosure: I have at least one degree from UT Austin (two, if you want to count the bachelor’s equivalency in CS I earned there in 1981) and remember the school fondly.
- Enrollment at UT is up 2.1% for 2009, as of the start of the fall semester. Talk about “doing more with less” — perhaps that should be “serving more with less” in this case!
- As of August, unemployment in the Austin area stands at 7.2%, 0.8% better than the Texas and 2.5% better than the US national unemployment rates for that same month. If anything, this argues that the recession is a bit less severe here than in other parts of the country and the world.
I’d love to know more about the reasons for this move, and to understand how and why these cuts were made at this particular time. One thing’s for sure: when a well-run, financially sound institution like UT Austin feels the need to trim IT staff, you can bet they aren’t convinced that the recession is over, either. Ouch!