Furlough plans growing more detailed at system, campuses

Mandated unpaid leave aimed at mitigating budget damage of pandemic
By Staff

In response to the budget threats brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, furloughs were announced Friday for system administration employees, adding to those announced at the campuses.

In an email to staff, President Mark Kennedy said all system administration employees who earn more than $60,000 annually will take one furlough day per month – which equates to about a 5% cut – effective July 1 and continuing until further notice.

“We are all aware of the extremely challenging financial conditions COVID-19 brought about,” Kennedy wrote. “Personnel costs are more than 70 percent of our expenditures. As part of our early mitigation efforts, my leadership team at system administration joined me in taking a 10% pay cut through furloughs, as did the campus chancellors and their leadership teams. The campuses are making further cuts across their workforce, and it is appropriate that we join in this shared sacrifice and be seen as good partners.”

Higher education faced news both good and bad last week regarding funding. The federal CARES act allowed the governor to provide some $450 million in funding for higher education (CU’s share is $127 million). Also, Colorado higher education will take a one-time $493 million cut (58%) in state funding (CU’s share is $140 million).

“The federal relief funds will definitely provide help to campuses as they work to educate, retain and graduate students, but they do not replace the state cut, and there is strict guidance on how the funds must be used,” Kennedy wrote. “Additionally, we face considerable uncertainty about our other major revenue streams – fall enrollment, research funding and auxiliary revenue (from campus operations such as housing, dining, parking, etc.). At the same time, efforts to ensure the health of our communities and to deliver more content digitally will increase costs.”

Employee Services will send out more detail regarding how the furlough will be implemented.

The president acknowledged the difficulty of furloughs at a time when COVID-19 has caused increased workloads and stress.

“Yet I believe it will give us a better chance to sustain our operations in the long run and to avoid deeper cuts that would weaken our enterprise,” Kennedy wrote.

The four campuses continue to announce details on their plans for furloughs:

CU Boulder: Since April, the university has indicated that furloughs were likely. So far, 447 employees have been notified about being continuously furloughed on or before June 1. These employees will retain their university benefits and be able to apply for unemployment benefits. The intention with these measures is to position the university to be able to bring furloughed employees back as soon as possible. Leadership including the chancellor, provost, chief operating officer, deans, vice chancellors, and associate vice chancellors will be taking two unpaid furlough days a month beginning July 1 and continuing through the upcoming academic year.

UCCS: The campus will institute tiered, temporary furloughs. All officers will take a 10 percent reduction in salary through furlough beginning July 1. General fund employees, or those funded through state appropriations and tuition, earning $60,000 or more per year will take a 4.6 percent reduction in salary, equivalent to one furloughed day per month, beginning July 1. Faculty earning $60,000 or more per year will take the same reduction in salary beginning Aug. 17, the first day of the academic year. In the present model, classified staff members are not subject to furloughs. These employees may be subject to furlough plans or other reductions implemented by the state or by the CU system. More information can be found on the Human Resources website.

CU Denver: Leaders have announced a tiered, progressive program of unpaid, temporary furloughs beginning July 1 and potentially running through June 30, 2021. Required furlough days will range from none, for those earning under $60,000 annually, to 26 days, for those earning $180,000 and above. The furlough plan will apply to most CU Denver employees: schools, colleges, academic and student affairs (ASA) staff, and CU Denver administration. All CU Denver cabinet, deans, and other officers will be furloughed at the highest level.

CU Anschutz: Some departments, schools and units have implemented furloughs and other cost-cutting measures to sustain their critical operations.