202 Dillard employees laid off

Dillard University laid off 202 of its staff and faculty this week, nearly 59 percent of its employees, saying those reductions could be temporary but for now are essential to keeping the school running.

“This is an extremely difficult, but necessary decision to ensure that Dillard is operational during this critical rebuilding process and able to offer the finest education possible to our students,” university president Marvalene Hughes said in a news release.

Since Katrina caused $400 million worth of damage to Dillard’s campus in the hard-hit Gentilly neighborhood, “Dillard has done everything possible to keep all faculty and staff on our payroll – and has for the past two months,” she said in a statement. “Dillard did not have any operating revenue during that time due to closing, but was able to retain payroll through other alternatives.

Tuesday’s announced layoffs were effective Monday and represent about 67 percent of the university’s faculty and 53 percent of its staff, according to the university. No tenured faculty were fired.

The university had 344 employees before the layoffs.

Employees’ benefits will continue through the end of December and final paychecks will go out Nov. 15, a spokeswoman said.

A news release issued by the university added: “It is unclear whether the reduction in force will be temporary or permanent since the university is only beginning to understand the impact of Hurricane Katrina on its operations. It is the university’s hope, however, that it will be able to re-employ displaced employees if enrollment and other circumstances permit in the future. Dillard is currently working with other universities to aid placement of displaced faculty.”

Dillard, which suffered extensive flood damage, will offer classes beginning in January at three Tulane University locations, its center in the Elmwood business park, an office building on Poydras Street and its Uptown campus.

Steve Ritea is a Staff Writer at the Times Picayune