PNW Pioneer

Students speculate following layoffs

PNW%E2%80%99s+seven+divisions+reduced+their+budgets+through+layoffs%2C+elimination+of+vacant+positions%2C+reduction+of+employee+benefits+and+reductions+in+supplies+and+equipment%2C+according+to+documents+provided+by+Stephen+Turner%2C+vice+chancellor+for+Finance+and%0AAdministration.
PNW’s seven divisions reduced their budgets through layoffs, elimination of vacant positions, reduction of employee benefits and reductions in supplies and equipment, according to documents provided by Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and
Administration.

PNW’s seven divisions reduced their budgets through layoffs, elimination of vacant positions, reduction of employee benefits and reductions in supplies and equipment, according to documents provided by Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration.

PNW’s seven divisions reduced their budgets through layoffs, elimination of vacant positions, reduction of employee benefits and reductions in supplies and equipment, according to documents provided by Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration.

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Following the layoff of Akili Shakur, former assistant director of Veteran and Student Service Programs, current and former students have raised questions and concerns.

In late January, Shakur and six other PNW employees were laid off and 13 vacant positions were eliminated. The departure of Shakur and the six employees came as part of a Reduction in Force by the university after it faced a $3 million budget deficit in October, which was the result of declining enrollment. Reductions in Force occur when there is a lack of work, a lack of funds or when reorganization is necessary, according to Purdue University’s policies.

In a statement to The Pioneer, Shakur said that changes are necessary if the university is to adapt to declining enrollment, but that these changes should begin with top-level administration.

“We have people making salaries of over $15,000 a month and their accountability for services do not warrant that type of pay,” Shakur said. “We have people making decisions that are based on their personal issues, not on accountability of services.”

Shakur had been employed at Purdue Calumet and later PNW since 2009 and began the Veterans Services program at the former PUC. In addition to this role, Shakur was the adviser for the Veteran and Enlisted Student Association, Black Student Union and Social Justice Club.

Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said the decisions of who was laid off and which positions were eliminated were largely up to the various division heads of PNW.

The university has seven divisions, and each was tasked with reducing their budget proportional to the revenue shortfall the university had amassed.

Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and division head of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, declined to comment on matters involving personnel.

Panlilio, however, said she was adamant about cutting vacant positions within the division first, and that administration only turned to laying off employees when nothing else could be reduced.

The Pioneer filed a public records request on Feb. 26 to obtain the directory information of the seven employees laid off and to obtain information surrounding the 13 eliminated positions. The request was subsequently denied on April 10 because the university has the ability to “withhold personnel files of public employees from individuals other than the employee.”

Veteran Services

Joel Soto, two-time Afghanistan veteran and senior entrepreneurship major, who said he came to PUC beginning in Fall 2015 because of Shakur and the Veteran Services program, said numerous veterans enrolled at PNW have been debating whether to leave the university following Shakur’s departure.

“It is frustrating for them to get rid of Akili and basically not really care what happens after that,” Soto said. “They have their own agendas without asking ‘What do the veterans actually want?’”

Following Shakur’s layoff on Jan. 31, John Weber was named executive director of Veterans and Student Support, a position that was newly created.

Lisa Goodnight, Dean of Students, said the creation of the new position, the highest-ever title pertaining to veteran services, is evidence that the university is increasing its focus on supporting veterans.

Weber was the Dean of Students for Purdue North Central prior to unification of PNC and PUC in 2016. Following unification, Weber was named assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, a position he held – and is still listed as holding on the PNW website – until he ultimately replaced Shakur in late January.

Soto said fellow veterans enrolled at PNW are questioning Weber’s agenda as head of the Veteran Services program.

“Is [your job] to be a liaison for [the] people making  decisions – and so you don’t really have any control – or are you actually going to be able to stand up for us and fight for us when we need it?” Soto said.

Weber was unavailable for comment.

Panlilio said Weber was picked for the job because the administration believes he is going to succeed in leading and aligning the programs on both campuses.

“If this was someone who couldn’t do it,” Panlilio said. “We wouldn’t have chosen him.”

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Students speculate following layoffs”

  1. Yuvi on April 30th, 2018 5:24 am

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  2. Jeffrey Strong on May 4th, 2018 6:54 am

    As of April 27 John Weber is no longer an employee of PNW. Is the administration going to bring Akili Shakur back to continue the good works she delivered in the past, or are we seeing a decline/abandonment of veteran services at PNW?

    [Reply]

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