Message from President Gilbert: Budget update and second phase of temporary salary reductions

Dear Marshall University faculty and staff,

I am writing this message to update you on fall enrollment projections and our budget situation.

As of this week, it looks like we are going to end up with an overall fall enrollment decrease of at least 4.6%, or 541 students.

While the enrollment numbers may appear better than we had perhaps expected, we have proportionately more in-state students and fewer international/out-of-state students than we had last year. This change in our student mix means we are bringing in less money per student, and it looks like our revenues will be down by $3.6 million compared to last year.

As I communicated by e-mails on June 4 and June 25, and again at the Board of Governors meeting in August, we have been waiting until we had solid fall tuition revenue estimates to determine if additional budget reductions are necessary. Yesterday, the Budget Work Group met about our budget shortfall.

These temporary salary reductions will affect employees whose annual salaries are in the range of $50,000 to $100,000. The reductions range from 0.07% to 5.6% and are on a sliding scale, so employees who make more will have higher percentage reductions.

Individuals with salaries in the range of $100,000 to $105,792 were spared the full cut in the first phase to prevent their salaries from falling below others whose salaries were not included in Part 1. Consequently, these employees will have an additional reduction to their salaries, as planned, to bring them in line with their peers in this second phase of cuts.

Affected employees can view tables of specific adjusted salaries by logging into MyMU and clicking on the “My Pay” link.

We initially announced that, if needed, the second phase of the salary reductions would be effective in late August; however, we waited a couple of extra weeks to see if perhaps revenues would improve as the semester got under way. Unfortunately, they have not. Therefore, the temporary reductions will be effective with the pay period that begins Sept. 12, 2020, and will be reflected on paychecks beginning Oct. 9, 2020.

No employee with a salary below $50,000 will experience any salary reduction. The first phase of the temporary salary reductions started in July for employees making $100,000 or more annually.

I sincerely regret that we have to take this step. We had all hoped this second phase of salary cuts would not be necessary.

It is still our intent for these temporary salary reductions to last no longer than one year. It is possible salaries could be restored to their full levels at any time during the fiscal year, depending on university revenues. We are closely monitoring our financial status and are prepared to take restorative action as soon as possible.

At this time, we do not think there will be a need this semester for any of the proposed Level 2 Reductions. We may, however, be forced to move forward with selected Level 2 cuts for the spring semester. Possible future Level 2 cuts could include some or all of the following:  further campus-wide temporary salary reductions, reductions in administrative stipends, reduction of additional course sections, additional cuts to operating budgets and temporary work “furloughs” for employees.

Furloughs—if necessary based on reduced enrollment and revenue in the spring—would be one of the very last measures we would take. My goal all along has been to protect and preserve the jobs of our permanent employees, and that remains my focus.

I want to again thank the members of the Budget Work Group, who have been providing input and advice throughout this difficult process. It is challenging and their service to Marshall is appreciated.

Thank you all for what you have done and will continue to do for the university’s students during the pandemic. As I wrote to someone last week, this has been a period of extraordinary effort and I have been repeatedly astonished and gratified about what the Marshall community has accomplished throughout this crisis.

It has been extremely difficult on everyone, and I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Jerome A. Gilbert. Ph.D.