In response to the financial challenges facing the campus, two established self-supporting units - the Printing Department and Creative Services - will be downsized, although in different ways.
The Printing Department, which has operated on campus for 92 years and has 38 full-time workers, plans to close its doors June 30, 2012, because of a nearly $1 million budget deficit that it has accrued over the last decade. The Facilities and Services unit may cease operations as soon as next year if annual expenses exceed revenues.
The campus's familiar I Mark was developed by a Creative Services employee in 1997 and was part of an overall branding effort to give campus units a consistent look in print and online.
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Creative Services, which creates marketing materials for campus units and is part of Public Affairs, will remain in operation, but plans to scale down considerably by February 2011. Creative Services currently has a deficit of $116,000.
Departments and units across campus are reviewing their operations to make sure they meet the core mission of the university.
A self-supporting unit is expected to cover its operation costs, said Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs. "While in the past, the campus might subsidize some aspects of an operation, that is no longer possible," she said.
"Competition with external vendors coupled with a general financial retrenchment has really made this a challenging time, especially for (these) self-supporting units," Kaler said. "We know there are certain core functions that are essential to a well-functioning university. And closing units or scaling back operations is certainly going to mean rethinking how we get some of the services we've come to take for granted."
The decision to close the Printing Department was an extremely difficult one, said Pam Voitik, director of Campus Services in Facilities and Services. Most campus units are given three years to turn around a deficit, and in this case, the unit was given six years, she said.
According to Voitik, the Printing Department has made progress during the last five years to reduce its debt, but not as much as the campus would like to see.
By keeping the department open for another two years, employees have the opportunity to find work elsewhere, Voitik said.
"We'll do everything we can to find them replacement positions here or in the community. Hopefully two years from now, there will be more openings," Voitik said
Employees in the Printing Department are mostly civil service and are covered by the employment classification's code for layoffs.
Specialized skills have been a hallmark of the Printing Department. It is the sole vendor for several print projects on campus, including the UI's official business cards, university stationery, honorary degrees and minutes for UI Board of Trustee meetings. Outside print vendors will have to learn the specifications for the UI's many print jobs and have to comply with prevailing wage and soy-based ink requirements - rules that apply to any state entity, Voitik said.
Printing also manages the non-profit mailing permit through Mailing Production, the unit that handles bulk mail. (In 2005 Mailing Services split into Campus Mail Distribution and Mail Production, with the latter becoming part of Printing. Campus Mail Distribution is separate and will continue to operate.) Departments will have to manage their own individual mailing permits after Printing closes.
Over the years, the department's expenses have risen for a variety of reasons, Voitik said. One is technology. Several pieces of equipment the department uses would cost several million dollars to replace. In addition to general rising costs for business, other units on campus - Photographic Stores and Mailing Production - consolidated into the department over time, and as a result, their deficits were absorbed.
The campus will benefit from keeping the shop open a little longer so that as little debt as possible from its deficit will have to be absorbed by the campus.
In the meantime, the Printing Department will continue to provide the same quality and professional service it is known for and units across campus should continue to use their services, Voitik said.
Quick copy centers at Bevier and the mechanical engineering building will close July 1. However, copy services - with pick-up and delivery - will continue to be offered at the Printing Department's main copy center and in the English building until Printing closes.
Creative Services has been a key player in developing and implementing campus-level marketing. Staff members recently redesigned the campus website and have assisted with several campus and unit marketing efforts.
"The Creative Services team has a deep knowledge and understanding of the broad and complex university culture," Kaler said. "This expertise includes an awareness of how a unit's message fits with the university's, but also how it is unique. That's something that's very hard for an outside service provider to package and to deliver. You can't really account for that in a competitive bid."
The unit currently has eight employees, mostly academic professionals. Five employees will be laid off by February if finances don't improve.
Like the Printing Department, Creative Services is still open for business and is accepting new projects. Kaler said that by using their services, units on campus would have a chance to see the quality work the Creative Services team provides.
In addition, if the deficit can be eliminated in the coming months and Creative Services can begin supporting other campus marketing and branding functions, Kaler said staff members could remain.
"It's our hope that we continue to provide value to campus," Kaler said.