HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly two dozen employees filling administrative positions at Hawai'i Pacific University were laid-off Wednesday.
HPU has approximately 1,100 faculty, staff, and administrator full and part-time positions.
"This was fewer than 25 employees and none of the employees are faculty, so in all of the adjustments that we're making this summer, we've taken care to protect the academic heart of the University," explained Todd Simmons, Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Hawai'i Pacific University.
In a letter to all faculty and staff sent out Wednesday, HPU President Geoffrey Bannister wrote: "We had to make some difficult budgetary and personnel changes this week. They are part of many adaptations necessitated by enrollment fluctuations that have been taking place over the last five years."
Officials say last year there were about 7,500 students registered – that's down from peak enrollment of about 8,000 plus. They say this year their military campus programs took the biggest hit, as result of sequestration.
"It happened at a poor time for us, with a new class of military students who were preparing to enroll and continue their studies – a great many of those without that tuition assistance were unable to enroll, and it did create a hole in our budget that was unanticipated," described Simmons.
According to HPU, the layoffs and additional budget changes will not affect the University's renovation and redevelopment plans at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.
"Later into this year, we will be beginning the design work and subsequently the renovation work for piers 8 and 9," explained Simmons. "We'll be firming up our timeline for the loft spaces that will be available on the 2nd floor to students. We have hope that we'll be able to complete those in time for fall of 2014 occupancy, but there is a chance as well that may not happen until January of '15."
HPU officials say this week's layoffs are just the first step in a series of moves they'll be making as part of their new strategic plan, which includes hiring. There's an on-going search for three Deans, a CFO and a VP for Enrollment Management.
Simmons says all those who were affected were offered severance packages and given extended health care insurance, along with job search assistance.
"We feel as though our workforce will be a little leaner, a little tighter – but we think ultimately, better prepared – to serve the needs of the University both in the immediate term and over the longer period," said Simmons.