Suspenden 18 puestos de investigación y se disuelve la división MASCA.
Financial crisis forces firing of 18 Penn Museum researchers. Scholars fired as part of ongoing "restructuring" process.
The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is the latest to be affected by the financial crisis.
Museum director Richard Hodges announced in a memo last Friday that the museum would discontinue 18 "research specialist" positions that have been part of the curatorial departments and the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology, in addition to disbanding the MASCA division as a whole.
"We're facing the same challenging financial issues as anyone else, and as a museum, our endowment and, in particular, donations are key parts of our financial strategy," Hodges said.
The terminations will take effect on May 31 next year which will give the employees - many of whom have worked at the museum for many years - a chance to reposition themselves or find other work at the University, according to Hodges.
The decision is a result of the Museum's ongoing "restructuring" process, which focuses on strengthening its "core mission and values, while maintaining fiscal stability," according to the memo.
He added that although Penn has been supportive throughout the process, the Museum has been forced to "tighten our belts" in order to make sure the venue itself stays open. Within the past year, the museum has also restructured its management and discontinued other positions. It also has a smaller staff compared to previous years.
Hodges called the changes the result of a balancing act and added that the research positions were chosen for discontinuation as a last resort because "there really isn't anyone else I can look to."
University spokeswoman Lori Doyle said "the University is supportive of the Museum's efforts to streamline and refocus its operations to meet the challenges of a changing cultural environment."
She added that the "change is difficult but in this case necessary to retain its position as one of the nation's and world's leading museums of anthropology and archaeology."
Students who have collaborated with the Museum will also feel the effects of the changes - but not in a wholly negative way.
"The entire world is experiencing an economic downturn, so it's only natural that it would affect the Penn Museum, which is very vulnerable because of its pre-existing financial condition," said College senior Abby Seldin, who recently co-curated an exhibit at the Museum. "Though it is very sad to see these people leave, it doesn't come as a surprise."
Hodges described Seldin's exhibition as having strengthened the image of the Museum, which in turn has helped generate income.
He added that one of the Museum's priorities moving forward - which is in part a result of Seldin's exhibit - is paying particular attention to providing educational and research opportunities to Penn students.
"Not everything is as bleak as it might seem," he said.