Staff Layoffs Come With New Campus Wide Challenges

Olivia Allery, news editor 

Photo of Hagfors Center entrance taken by Abi Hilden on Sept 21 

The termination of nine staff member positions took effect on Sept. 11, and various departments across Augsburg are feeling its effects. As mentioned in “Augsburg Budget Cuts Eliminate Nine Positions,” published in the Sept. 11, 2023 issue of the Echo, Augsburg has taken cost saving actions after finalizing the 2022-2023 budget, namely in freezing retirement contributions for all employees and staff layoffs for non-faculty. These nine staff members included in this layoff were part of the following departments: 

– Center for Global Education & Experience (CGEE)

– Social Work 

– Lindell Library 

– Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO)

– Center for Wellness and Counseling 

– Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship 

– Academic Affairs

– Strommen Career and Internship Center

These absences have left others in their departments left with added responsibilities and feelings of sadness, confusion and worry for what is to come. According to Emilie Lenz, program associate for Off-Campus Programs with the Center for Global Education & Experience (CGEE), the absence of both Maren Stoddard Mack and one other staff member (name omitted for privacy) within CGEE has been challenging as herself and her supervisor take on additional positions. “There’s only so much someone can do and prepare within the two weeks of them leaving,” said Lenz to the Echo. “Maren and [name omitted] really tried to set us up for the most success possible for the rest of the year, but there’s definitely things that are going to be missed and that’s what I’m scared of, because who’s going to suffer the most from that, the students.”

Christina Erickson, chair of Augsburg’s Social Work Department, expressed the same concerns for students as her department is working out responsibilities that were previously held by the staff member that was laid off whose name is omitted for their privacy. “We have great student outcomes, and we really haven’t lost many students in the social work department, and that had a lot to do with [them] being here,” said Erickson. “Staff also play a role in the culture of a department as well, and [they] facilitated orientation, welcome events, and graduation celebrations for the department, and we’re just trying to figure out how we can not affect the students.”

Along with this, departments also have had little support from administration on how to compensate for the positions lost. Lenz continued to the Echo by saying, “My supervisor has been super helpful, but as far as the overarching admin, there has been really no communication, and we really don’t know what it’s going to look like moving forward.”

Monica McDaniel oversaw and stewarded the Augsburg Community Garden, located behind Hagfors Business Center. Monica said this in a quote to the Echo, “Environmental stewardship is an integral part of Augsburg’s mission. As its former Sustainability Officer and a proud Auggie alum, I know that food sovereignty and climate action are good for the bottom line and the planet. It’s important for students, community gardeners and neighbors to lead on this and for the institution to support their efforts and work.” The garden is used by Augsburg and residents of the Cedar-Riverside as a healthy food source and to build community, but with the loss of Monica’s position, members of the community and the Environmental Stewardship Committee are concerned of how the garden will be sustained in her absence.