Business school employee must teach or quit

A career counselor in the School of Business Administration will now teach business classes after his position was eliminated during the March budget process that saw $3 million in cuts across the university.

Jim Bombino, one of two career counselors in SBA, worked for Portland State under what is known as a year-to-year contract. Bombino’s contract with the university will now end June 31, 2007, but he can leave the university for another job at any time.

The administration would have needed to notify Bombino by December in order for his contract to have been discontinued by the end of this fiscal year, under PSU’s faculty and staff union’s regulations. Scott Dawson, dean of the School of Business Administration, chose not to make any notifications in December of possible position eliminations.

Dawson said that he did not know until the spring that Bombino’s position would be cut and decided not to notify all people with year-to-year contracts in December that their positions may be eliminated. He said he has sent out such blanket notices in the past and it has brought down the morale of all the people who received letters.

“In theory we could send [contract notices] out to everyone like this, but that is demoralizing to the institution,” Roy Koch, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said. “It’s not our policy to send blanket notices, just to allow us maximum flexibility.”

Bombino is on extended medical leave from the university and did not respond to requests for comment.

Dawson said Bombino was not happy about the position change, but the former career counselor will be filling much-needed teaching credit hours in the School of Business. He said Bombino is master’s degree qualified for teaching and will be teaching a required undergraduate degree course to fill credit hour gaps in the School of Business.

Jonathan Uto, President of the PSU faculty and staff union the AAUP, said that PSU faculty and staff with year-to-year contracts are often told that their contracts might not be continued for the next year, but most are rehired. Uto said it would have been more considerate to Bombino to set up an expectation of possible position changes in advance, by telling multiple people in December, rather than creating “a hard time for one individual right now.”

“As a whole, the SBA faculty and staff would have appreciated a long-term outlook, as opposed to knowing that any day their employment status could be changed,” Uto said.

Koch said the career counselor position was not continued because the goal of the administration is to keep as many classes open to students as possible by shifting the administrative end of the university.

“What we’re trying to do is reduce our budget, but not reduce our ability to offer any kind of classes,” Koch said.