Northern Illinois University Staff Meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste was let go after 19 years.Then the corporate-speak begins.
NIU spokesman Joe King said the decision was not a reflection of the work Sebenste has done for the university.
“We are a storm-ready campus because of his efforts and have another designation as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador from the National Weather Service, which goes directly to making sure we’re ready for violent weather and can come back quickly from it,” King said. “We’re at a point where a lot of hard choices have to be made, and that position was deemed one that had to go.”
King said this decision was not related to an email sent out by NIU President Doug Baker to faculty and students, which suggested a decrease in the university’s workforce as a means to offset the uncertainty of state funding because of Illinois’ longstanding budget impasse.Seriously? We'll know they're serious when the Diversity Office is rendered redundant.
“Going forward, we will need to continue to decrease the size of our workforce, because employment costs account for more than 50 percent of our overall budget,” Baker said in the email. “In the past, employment reductions have come largely through attrition. We hope to continue doing that going forward, but we must recognize that we might need to cut more than what’s possible through attrition.”
Sebenste’s layoff was one that was proposed during NIU’s “program prioritization” talks that have been going on since fall 2015.
“Last spring, when the Program Prioritization Administrative Task Force made its report to campus, the area where Gilbert works, Environmental Health and Safety, was identified as one where there was potential for staff reductions,” King said. “As we make reductions, we are trying to be strategic and attempt to find cuts that do not impact our core missions of educating students and supporting research and artistry.”
Getting the forecasts out, let alone the tornado warnings and the snow day preparation? Not so much.
As a supportive professional staff member, Sebenste is allowed a full year from the time of his termination notice before he must leave.Some things will simply not be done. Why should this year be different from any other years?
King said it is unclear how his duties will be redistributed once he’s gone.