Second phase of temporary salary reductions announced due to effects of COVID-19 on enrollment

In an e-mail message this afternoon, Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert told employees the university will implement the second phase of previously announced campus-wide temporary salary reductions made necessary by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the university’s enrollment.

The salary reductions announced today will affect the 650 university employees whose annual salaries are in the range of $50,000 to $100,000. An earlier phase of temporary salary reductions started in July for the 140 employees making $100,000 or more annually.

This round of reductions will be effective with the pay period that begins Sept. 12 and will be reflected in employees’ paychecks beginning Oct. 9.

Examples from the salary reduction scale include the following:  1% reduction at $54,800; 2% reduction at $60,750; 3% reduction at $68,450; 4% reduction at $77,775; and 5% reduction at $90,000.

No employee with a salary below $50,000 will experience any salary reduction.

Gilbert said the cost-cutting measure is needed to balance the university’s budget in the face of enrollment declines for the fall semester. He emphasized the reductions are intended to last no more than one year and that salaries may be restored earlier if revenue improves. He added that university officials had been waiting until they had solid fall tuition revenue estimates to determine if the second phase of salary cuts would be needed.

In the e-mail, Gilbert said, “I sincerely regret that we have to take this step. We had all hoped this second phase of salary cuts would not be necessary.”

He said the university expects an overall fall enrollment decrease of approximately 4.6% due to the pandemic, which is less than the 15% initially projected for universities nationally.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Other budget reduction efforts in place due to the projected revenue shortfall have included freezing vacant positions and State-funded travel; cutting back on campus events; reducing the number of graduate assistants and student workers; reducing operating, maintenance and utility budgets; and reducing the number of course sections to cut instructional expenses. In addition, the university in April refinanced bonds, saving the institution $1 million a year.

University officials said they do not think there will be a need this semester for any of the proposed Level 2 Reductions. If necessary, additional cuts for the spring semester 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,” said Gilbert. “My goal all along has been to protect and preserve the jobs of our permanent employees, and that remains my focus.”

He closed by thanking the faculty and staff “for what you have done and will continue to do for the university’s students during the pandemic…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.”

Read the president’s entire message at www.marshall.edu/coronavirus.