by GILLIAN BROWN & MATTHEW SIMMONS
UMW has issued faculty and staff salary cuts and furlough days in the wake of a predicted $10.2 million loss in revenue due to COVID-19.
“At this point, the University has had no layoffs as a direct result of COVID-19. Also, in several recent livestreams with faculty and staff, President Paino has stated that layoffs are a last resort,” said Anna Billingsley, vice president of University Relations, when asked about potential layoffs moving forward.
Back in March, UMW implemented a hiring freeze to help curb the deficit. In June, Virginia enacted a hiring and compensation freeze for all state agencies, which further solidified the efforts made by the university months prior.
While the university was temporarily shut down, many of the popular buildings across campus have been completely empty. Places like the gym and Hurley Convergence Center have seen no visitors since the pandemic began. These buildings now will find themselves somewhat repopulated as students and faculty begin to return back to campus. President Paino, along with many other administrators, has been working over the last couple of months to find the best solution to maintaining these areas while keeping the community safe and preventing negative health and economic repercussions.
A security guard has now taken over the front desk of the HCC, replacing students who typically work there. Some other positions in the HCC have remained operational, but have done so remotely.
“It’s definitely way different because our jobs are supposed to be in person, but it’s made us work in more creative ways and do different tasks than usual,” said Elizabeth Kardos, a junior anthropology major who works as a supervisor for the building.
According to Beth Williams, Executive Director of Human Resources, the potential cut in labor costs came out to be $1.6 million.
As a result, salary reductions and furlough days have been put into place for the upcoming fall semester. Teaching faculty faced a reduction in salary, while staff and administration saw their reduction come in the form of furlough days. Both of these have been calculated and scaled based on each specific salary, so those with the lowest income experience the least amount of impact in their pay.
Employees facing furlough days were given the ability to schedule their own unpaid days with their supervisor, making it so they have more control over their newly modified pay. This plan also accounts for faculty who make less than $30,000 per year, who will not face any kind of pay cuts or furlough day.
“Our department was furloughed and pay raises were cut,” said Michael Hall, chief of Police and vice president of Public Safety.
Even with students returning to campus many of the regular campus functions, such as dining services and student engagement activities, are operating differently due to the school’s new policies regarding protection against COVID-19. Student Involvement, housed in the UC, is one of the many on-campus departments that has had to adjust to the new policies as well as financial restraints.
“Our department is dealing with the decreased budget by being as fiscally responsible as possible as we create opportunities for students to stay engaged, interact with each other, and have fun virtually during these difficult times,” said Becky Bezdan, business manager for the Student Involvement Administration.
Bezdan and Hall both confirmed that the budget cuts have been spread across campus as evenly as possible.
“We’re at a shortfall right now but in Dr. Paino’s address [on Sept. 8] to faculty and staff he said he feels it is a manageable shortfall. That was a sigh of relief for a lot of faculty and staff across the board. It’s not just one department taking the hits, it’s everyone feeling the crunches,” said Hall.