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UT Austin Announces Communications Staff Layoffs After Protest To Focus On “Crisis Management”

The University of Texas at Austin announced it would be laying off about a dozen of employees at the Communications and Marketing department to focus on “reputational issues and crisis management,” just after pro-Palestine protests and DEI layoffs.

Sources familiar with the matter told KUT News that 19 to 20 employees were laid off and will work for the university until August 31.

The announcement comes about a month after the university was criticized for its response to pro-Palestinian protests in April, when the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested more than 100 people.

Some of the arrested students face charges and university discipline, but the university has failed to communicate what sanctions those students will face.

Brian Davis, a spokesman for the university, initially said that the arrested students would not be allowed to return to campus, but later said that they could return to campus for academic reasons. Moments later, the university said again that students could not return to campus under any circumstances.

According to sources consulted by KUT News, Davis was among those fired from the communications department. 

“[N]ow, more than ever, it is critical for our central marketing and communications function to focus intently on managing reputational issues and crises,” Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Enily Reagan wrote in a June 3 email sent to laid off employees. She also said the university will search for a new vice president who could “proactively manag[e] issues and crises at the top.”

“It has become clear that we need greater strength in crisis communications, and the crises we have faced have made it difficult to invest properly in our brand, impact and long-run reputation,” she added.

The layoffs were announced on a Zoom call before Reagan’s email. A source recorded the meeting and identified Reagan saying that the layoffs were not a “performance-related decision.”

“This is a decision to set us up to focus on priorities that the president has outlined for me and for our team,” Reagan said.

The university also laid off more than 60 faculty and staff members because of the ban on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities.

Until Aug. 31, the university encouraged laid-off employees to look for new jobs during their university work hours.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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