On Thursday, April 17 the Board of Regents adopted a policy change that could lead to furloughs for up to 39,000 employees at the state’s 13 universities and branch campuses. The measure came after the schools projected losses of almost $170 million after students were told to leave campus in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furloughs are essentially mandatory, unpaid time off, while an employee’s benefits and position are maintained. Per the policy, furloughs could range from one to ninety days, and could be intermittent.
The very next day after the policy change, UW-W Chancellor Dwight Watson announced that furloughs will be necessary as a result of the $9 million in increased expenses and lost revenue related to the pandemic. Already the university had been looking to fill an approximate $12 million hole in its budget over two years due to declining enrollments. No details were given about the impending furloughs. Also to be given consideration are steps such as pausing hiring and salary increases.
The Chancellor’s message also indicated that a team will be considering the results of a survey regarding how to recognize the spring graduates in lieu of the scheduled commencement. Summer school classes will be conducted online, and a decision will soon be forthcoming regarding summer camps. It is hoped that classes will resume in-person in the fall, but it was admitted that this is not certain at this time.
The message ended with, “We have many challenges ahead of us. My desire is that we face those challenges together in a collaborative and consultative way. With precision and a firm course based on care and safety, financial liquidity, student and personnel care, and operational continuity, UW-Whitewater will come through this on the other side. We will not be the same place we were a month ago, or six months ago, but we will always be a caring community where we honor each individual and we embrace the scholarly work of teaching and learning.”
The announcement may be viewed here.