USM official addresses budget cuts with staff members

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - The interim Chief Financial Officer of Southern Miss spoke to staff members Tuesday about the impact university budget cuts may have on those employees.

Russ Willis was the guest speaker for the Staff Council meeting, which is a Southern Miss organization. His comments were open to the entire university community as he discussed the benefits potentially laid off employees will be entitled to.

Those benefits include the continuation of free Southern Miss tuition for three semesters, unemployment eligibility and the option to retain state health insurance. Willis said the human resources department will help affected staff members file for these options and discuss what to do with retirement funds.

"And you know it's absolutely our goal to be as transparent as possible. To talk to people that are impacted. On the staff side right now some of the details are still being worked out. As you well know we had a notification requirement for faculty. We don't have that requirement for staff, so we are kind of seeing how things go over the next couple of months. Hopefully through some attrition we can get these budget cuts," said Willis.

Willis also addressed the decision making process the university used to determine budget cuts for fiscal year 2012.

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