The financial impact of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on university budgets. This week, Quinnipiac University announced it will lay off or furlough nearly 170 employees due to the pandemic.
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The reductions at Quinnipiac come as the school faces two years of declining enrollment and a projected $55 million budget deficit. Officials said this week about $10 million of that shortfall is directly related to COVID-19.
In response, the school will temporarily furlough 130 employees and lay off 38 more, according to a letter to faculty and staff sent by university President Judy Olian on Monday.
The employee reductions impact about 12% of the school’s full-time staff. The average furlough length will be around six weeks, and furloughed employees will retain their benefits and be eligible for unemployment assistance.
School officials said that a university-wide hiring freeze will remain in place for the 2020-21 budget and that members of the school’s management and leadership council will take pay cuts of 5% to 10% in their full-year salaries. Olian said she will continue “for the upcoming academic year the 20% salary reduction I had taken earlier.”
Tenured faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business, Communications and Nursing will also be offered voluntary buyouts contingent upon years of service.
Eligible faculty have until the end of the month to make their decision.
“Regardless of the concerted attempts to minimize the impact of these reductions on our faculty and staff, these decisions are among the hardest we’ve ever confronted at Quinnipiac, and no doubt they will cause sadness and hardship,” Olian wrote.
Budget Woes At UConn Continue
Meanwhile, UConn is facing a projected budget deficit of nearly $50 million for the fall with university President Thomas Katsouleas telling staff Wednesday a similar reduction could be anticipated in the spring.
“We are faced with major revenue losses in housing, dining, patient care and tuition,” Katsouleas said in a letter to faculty and staff.
Katsouleas said losses stemming from sending students home midway through last spring total $30 million, and they have only been partially offset by $10 million in federal assistance and an additional $10 million from a hiring and spending freeze.
“The best-case scenario for next fall forecasts a loss of $47 million and we have not done a detailed forecast for spring, but it would not be pessimistic to believe we will be at a similar reduced density of students as in the fall,” Katsouleas said.
University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said in an email Thursday that school officials will meet Wednesday to adopt the coming fiscal year’s budget and the “amount that must be addressed through reductions or other actions.”
Where, specifically, those cuts could hit remains unclear.
University and union leadership are in discussions over school finances, and management “will be making the same accommodations that we have asked of the rest of our workforce, or more,” Katsouleas said.
“Given the complexities involved, it will take longer to determine specifics of how that amount will be met and how much of that would involve personnel costs,” Reitz said.