The Lumberjack

Housing and international program directors lose jobs

The sun sets behind Feuerwerker House where Center for International Programs is located at Humboldt State University on March 6. Program director Ge-Yao Liu was let go last week for unknown reasons. Photo by Megan Bender.

The reality of Humboldt State budget cuts sets in as three departments recently lost employees. The positions of Associate Director of Housing Facilities, Steve McKenzie, Director of Center for International Programs, Ge-Yao Liu, and Associate Vice President for College of Extended Education & Global Engagement, Alex Hwu, were brought to an end.

When contacted to speak on this matter, Liu did not wish to make a comment on his dismissal or the budget reductions.

“All I want to say is to wish the university the best, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the director of International Programs for a bit over one year,” Liu said.

All other employees contacted at the International Center did not respond or did not wish to comment.

Since the open budget forum held on Feb. 2, it hasn’t been a mystery to HSU students and faculty that the school is facing a major budget crisis. In the summary of the University Cabinet outline of Budget Reduction Decisions, an immediate plan is to “Reduce five administrator positions and eight vacant staff positions.”

In a message sent to HSU students on Feb. 26, President Lisa Rossbacher wrote that HSU must reduce its budget spending by $9 million over the next two years.

“I am writing today to reassure you that our very highest priority remains your educational experience,” Rossbacher wrote. “Even as we make reductions, we are protecting the core offerings of classes and support to help you progress toward completing your degree. Our budget decisions will lead to a ‘Students First’ budget, which I will share with the campus community by March 29.”

It is not yet clear what the “Students First” budget will look like, but some students are worried about the way the budget cuts will affect them.

“I came in from a break and people kept saying, ‘We’re gonna lose our jobs,” student assistant in Housing and Residence Life, Zach Pole, said.

Though Pole says he is still in denial, he believes students losing their jobs is a possibility and thinks this will affect the department negatively.

“The student assistants kind of do all the really basic, remedial and trivial stuff,” Pole said. “Without us, they’re gonna have to do this themselves when there’s more important things going on.”

Pole said in a Housing and Residence Life meeting last week that Housing and Facilities Management are merging, and that McKenzie’s position was eliminated.

Director of Housing and Residence Life, Stephen St. Onge, did not have time to give an interview, but wrote an email responding to student concerns.

“We have not cut any student assistant positions for budget cuts,” St. Onge. “In fact, we added resident advisor positions last year to best support the building of community on campus.”

This story has been changed from its original version on March 12 at 11:09 a.m.