COVID-19 hiring freeze

Caitlin O’HalloranReporter

There has been a hiring freeze throughout the campus. This has stopped the hiring of new employees to the university.

“By definition, a hiring freeze, which we have operating now, is more or less the effects of completely random, because whenever someone leaves to retire or taking a new job or gets promoted, then they create a vacancy and that’s random event. We can’t plan for it because we don’t know when someone’s going to leave until they leave,” said the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Mark Rozewski.

About a year ago, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was also the start of this hiring freeze. In the past three years, there would be searches for new faculty members of about 30 people. The search sometimes went down to look for 18 new faculty members. With the hiring freeze, the number was brought down to zero, according to the SCSU Faculty Senate.

“Any time we have a vacancy, we at the vice president level are asked to work with our teams to really, fully vet what the implication of that vacancy is, what would it mean if we didn’t fill it at all? What are the possibilities of identifying if the work could be done in some different ways or by different people?” said Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree.

Tyree noted that as the Vice President of Student Affairs, there are around 20 units she oversees and, from any of those viewpoints, there are vacancies.

“So the director of athletics left, and we concluded that from a programmatic, from a scope and scale perspective of the athletics program at Southern, we really cannot not have a director of athletics. That’s a critical position because the scope of that program from a student impact perspective, from a sort of number of staff that work in the program to the fiscal operation that it is, really requires a leader,” said Tyree.

Because of the importance and demand to have an athletics director, the System Office was made aware of the intensity for the position to be filled and the plan to move forward with a search for that new faculty member was approved.

“When a custodian decides to retire and they’re not replaced, something happens. Something you’ll notice and something that can’t go on forever. We can’t leave the position vacant forever, but right now we are,” said Rozewski.

Rozewski noted that about 80 percent of the cost of any university, including Southern itself, is for the faculty members that work at those universities, and so having a hiring freeze is the only way for them to save money. But, because of the union contract, they cannot lay faculty off and so that is why they have had to resort to having a hiring freeze.

“Similarly, in January, our coordinator of wellness left, Emily Rosenthal left the university, and we have vetted that position and decided that there are ways we can think differently about our wellness programs, our wellness initiatives, we already have been working to create a more integrated approach to student wellbeing that involves counseling and help,” said Tyree.

Although this hiring freeze is currently occurring, the System Office made it possible so where there is a completely essential necessity for a position to be filled, they will allow very limited hiring to happen throughout different positions for different areas.

“The impact is scatter/shot across the institution and so that will happen everywhere, not particularly at Southern,” said Rozewski. “All of the CSUs have a hiring freeze with very, very rare exceptions. They are all suffering through it in slightly different ways because it’s the luck of the draw.It’s whoever left.”

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