Fairfield University laid off a total of 31 employees over the summer in an effort to cut down the budget by $5 million, according to a Fairfield University press release.

The layoffs, including only members of the  Fairfield staff, happened in conjunction with a salary freeze for all employees. University President Father Jeffrey von Arx said in the press release, “We have adopted a phased approach to budget reductions, making only the most essential cost reductions in response to specific budget impacts as they arise.

“…We intend to proceed in this careful way, in order to protect the quality of our programs and maintain our focus on the institutions’ strategic priorities,” continued von Arx.
Mark Guglielmoni, the director of Human Resources, said these layoffs were part of a plan to give students 20 percent more financial aid this year by  reducing operating expenses by 5 percent.
Guglielmoni said, “We tried to handle it as nicely as possible. It is never easy, we tried to be a respectful as we could.”

While students are angered by these layoffs, they understand the reasoning behind them.

“I think it is messed up because I know some people have been here for a long time,” said senior Allie Ritacco. “But I understand because of the economic times.”

One terminated employee that gained special attention over the summer was Jeanne DiMuzio, who worked at Fairfield for 27 years as the director of the Health and Wellness Center. Because of her work, she formed relationships with many of the students and gained much respect from them.

Her removal from the University struck a chord with many students who fear that the University is losing an important friend and ally. Jeremy Shea ’10 founded a Facebook group entitled “Save Jeanne DiMuzio’s Job,” which currently has over 1,000 members.

“Laying off Jeanne has prevented her from being there to stand in a doorway and allow students to express themselves,” said Shea. “The programs she ran are now either gone or being run by students (myself included) who cannot try to come close to what she did.”

DiMuzio was also the advisor for Project PEG and had an important role in educating students about alcohol awareness and how to keep them healthy and safe.

DiMuzio’s job may be the best example of how students and the University community will be affected, but von Arx says that the University is doing the best they can given their current financial situation.

“It will be a difficult time for all of us as we will be asked to do more with less,” he said in a press release, “but these budget reductions are essential given the extraordinary economic times in which we find ourselves.”

The University reported that endowment is also down as a result of the economic recession, further impacting the University’s finances and is partly a reason for laying off employees. Although the University still increased tuition by 3.9 percent for the upcoming year, the press release states that it is the smallest increase since 1973 and to combat that, financial aid has increased to $36 million.
Senior Beth Voight-Jause said that her and her friends in Pep Band have been directly affected, as Duane-Cady Melzer was among those who were not let go, but had various positions taken away and subsequently less pay.  He is no longer the Assistant Director of Student Activities and Facilities.

“Many of these faculty members directly influenced the students, including Duane Melzer, who we were lucky enough to keep as varsity and concert band director,” said Voight-Jause. “However, not having him around on campus everyday is putting a lot of pressure on the band students to keep the band running smoothly.”

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