The University of Minnesota expects to shed 1,240 jobs next year -- about 5.5 percent of its total workforce.

University President Robert Bruininks unveiled a proposed operating budget Friday that includes 220 fewer faculty members, 280 fewer administrative jobs and more than 700 other student and staff job reductions or "non-renewals."

Bruininks said the faculty positions were not filled after recent departures because of uncertainties about state funding and effects of the economic recession. The U also offered retirement incentives to employees, which accounts for about 200 jobs that will not be replaced. It's unclear now how many people will be laid off.

Bruininks said that the U is willing to do its part and "take its lumps," but he said budget cuts have been "disproportionately deep," requiring him to slash next year's budget by $95 million.

"Freezing positions and failing to hire replacements in some fields is not just a matter of balancing the budget, it's also a matter of reducing the state's opportunities to grow ideas and innovation in areas that are vitally important," he said.

About 20 of the faculty positions are in the Institute of Technology, and 42 are in the Medical School.

"Does that get my attention? Yes," said Dr. Frank Cerra, the U's senior vice president of health sciences. The cuts will increase pressure on remaining faculty to spend more time in clinics where they earn money for the medical school, he said, and less time on teaching and research that generates large grants.

"What I can't tell you yet is how that's going to affect the number of students we can support and the number of residents we can support," he said.

In addition to the faculty, Cerra said about 100 staff positions will be eliminated.

Union protests staff cuts

That concerns Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, representing about 1,600 clerical workers at the U. Walker said that various departments have laid off at least 50 clerical workers during the past three months, and more layoffs are expected. Clerical workers pay invoices and deposit checks, enter payroll, arrange conferences, administer tests and perform many other critical jobs for faculty and students, she said.

"We are bearing the brunt of the layoffs," she said. The union is planning a rally next week to call on the Board of Regents to implement a more equitable policy. "If there are layoffs at the U, they should be spread equally across all employee groups and not focused on front-line clerical staff," she said.

In addition to eliminating jobs, Bruininks proposed that the 2010 operating budget reduce library services, cut spending at agriculture experiment stations, skip purchase of updated instructional equipment and increase reliance on part-time instructors.

The regents will meet Wednesday to receive feedback about the proposed budget and will take final action June 24.

One of those who hopes to address the regents is Bill Gleason, associate professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

Gleason said he disagrees with Bruininks' priorities and suggests that, as a first step, Bruininks and others paid more than $250,000 should take an immediate 10 percent salary cut. "How about setting a good example in this area before lopping off the heads of what will turn out to be many lower-paid people?" Gleason said. "Leadership matters."

Late last year, Bruininks froze salaries for himself and about 40 top administrators.

Stadium drinking discussed

Also Friday, regents discussed a proposed policy change that would ban the serving or selling of alcohol in the new on-campus football stadium and other campus sports arenas. The previous policy allowed alcoholic beverages to be served only in such premium seating as boxes, suites and club rooms. However, the Legislature passed a law requiring an all-or-nothing approach to selling alcohol to adults who attend games, regardless of where they sit.

Regents said that it makes more sense to ban alcohol from the stadium rather than have it more widely available and that games need to be "family-friendly and student-safe."

Regent Dean Johnson, former majority leader of the Minnesota Senate, said that "our friends across the river have meddled in our business," and he would like to see the law changed. But he expects the football stadium will be alcohol-free when it opens this fall.

The alcohol-free policy will also apply to Williams Arena for basketball games and Mariucci Arena for hockey games.

The regents are expected to vote on the alcohol policy on June 24, as well. If approved, Minnesota would join Michigan and Ohio State, the only two Big 10 schools that prohibit all alcohol at games.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388