Officials rule out employee salary cut, announce second phase of budget cuts

Media Credit: File Photo by Eric Lee

Deans and unit leadership will identify reductions in non-recurring expenses to fully eliminate the remaining deficit, LeBlanc said.

Faculty and staff will not receive salary reductions as part of budget cuts following weeks of deliberations by top administrators.

University President Thomas LeBlanc said officials are no longer considering “across-the-board” salary cuts for faculty and staff to close the remainder of GW’s annual budget gap, which has now been reduced from $180 million to $160 million, according to an email sent to faculty and staff Thursday. Officials have already announced $100 million in cuts during the first phase of financial mitigation and will close the remaining $60 million through reducing non-recurring expenses and using some of the University’s unrestricted assets.

“I especially want to thank the Faculty Senate and its committees for the hundreds of hours of thoughtful and deliberative consultation with leadership to navigate the challenges,” LeBlanc said in the email. “And to all of our faculty and staff, I remain grateful for your dedication to GW and for your resilience, your patience and your understanding, as we have worked together to prioritize health, safety, care and our core academic mission.”

LeBlanc said at a senate meeting earlier this month that officials had discussed an employee salary cut but had not made a final decision. The Faculty Association condemned a future salary cut last month.

Officials will use “up to” $20 million of GW’s unrestricted assets to help close the budget gap, LeBlanc said in the email. Deans and unit leadership will identify reductions in non-recurring expenses to fully eliminate the remaining deficit, he said.

“Although the pandemic and its effects on our University have been very fluid, members of University leadership and I feel confident that the totality of the actions taken and announced will now address our current financial challenges,” LeBlanc said. “To be clear: Barring a significant change in the pandemic and its impact, we believe that these final steps will conclude our budget mitigation for this fiscal year.”

Officials suspended most capital projects and hirings, froze all salaries with an additional pay cut by some top administrators and laid off hundreds of staff during the first phase of budget cuts, which reduced expenses by $100 million.

LeBlanc said these actions will be completed “in the coming weeks.” He said at the senate meeting earlier this month the first phase would be completed by Friday.

Some of these decisions have led hundreds of faculty, staff and students to sign onto statements and petitions condemning officials’ financial mitigation strategy, with some calling on LeBlanc to resign.

LeBlanc said he is “hopeful” the suspension of the University’s retirement contributions for employees, which will begin Oct. 1, may be shorter in duration if GW experiences a “robust” spring enrollment, and administrators will provide an update in December.

“Every member of our community can help in this regard by giving our students the highest quality experience this semester,” LeBlanc said. “I have heard from many students about the positive experience they are having so far, and I want to thank each of you for your work to make the fall virtual term a success.”

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