Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) is planning to lay off 185 people to help close an anticipated budget deficit of approximately $25 million next year.
Interim President Rob Watts announced his plan May 25 and said it will be “dynamic” and subject to change according to input from the college’s financial staff and as final revenue and expenditure amounts come in at the end of summer semester.
“We do not know what will happen with fall and spring enrollment, and the corresponding effect on revenue,” Watts said. “We need to re-examine the way our functional areas are organized and staffed. We must reduce our personnel costs, which represent more than 90 percent of the college’s budget, by $10.7 million.”
Watts stated in his plan that the 185 employee reductions will not include “tenured and tenure-track” faculty members but that staff would need to “stretch to take up the slack that will be created.”
University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Hank Huckaby named Watts interim president of the college in early May. Former President Anthony Tricoli stepped down May 8 after a $16 million budget deficit was discovered. Since then, the projected deficit has grown from $16 million to $25 million because the college is required to pay back a $9 million loan next year.
Initially, Tricoli was reassigned to work in the college’s central office but recent reports state that at the end of June, Tricoli will no longer be employed by the college. Tricoli claims to have known nothing about the details of the growing deficit and has alleged fraudulent behavior by key financial personnel.
Georgia Perimeter’s student newspaper The Collegian recently published a May 10 email obtained through an open records request addressed to Huckaby from attorney J. Mathew Maguire Jr., who works for the law firm Parks, Chesin and Walbert.
The email states, “Lee Parks and I will be representing Dr. Tricoli in connection with his removal as president from Georgia Perimeter College and his termination of employment. We will correspond with you more formally as soon as possible (hopefully by the end of the day), but in the interim, we ask that you not make any public statement about Dr. Tricoli’s termination until we have a chance to discuss with you. As you know, it can be very difficult to ‘unring’ a bell such as this.”
Both Parks and Maguire were contacted for this story but did not return repeated calls or emails.
Additionally, reports have stated the Georgia Attorney General’s Office is performing an investigation related to Tricoli’s fraud accusations. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Sam Olens said, as a matter of policy, she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.
John Millsaps, a USG spokesman, said Tricoli’s employment application was not renewed by the Board of Regents, the governing body of the USG, for fiscal year 2013. Millsaps also said there is a current investigation of GPC being conducted by the USG’s audit department.
This is the second time Watts has served as interim president of GPC, the first being 2005-06. In addition to cutting 185 positions, his plan includes a $6 million reduction in operating expenses by eliminating “non-essential” out-of-state travel and reducing in-state travel; reducing expenditures for supplies and material; reducing advertising and marketing; delaying the replacement of staff computers and upgrading the campuses computer network; and scaling back on campus-wide events such as convocation.
Other cost-saving measures include having more administrators teach courses in 2013, continuing a hiring freeze and increasing class sizes and teacher workload.