Wright State University. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

Coronavirus: WSU considering reduction in employee hours

Given the certainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright State University officials have started looking at ways they can save money this summer to help offset possible deficits.

“Wright State, like many universities across the nation, must take unprecedented actions, both temporary and permanent, in order to sustain campus operations,” President Sue Edwards wrote in a note to the community Friday. “Now, more than ever, we must all work together to ensure our future.”

It’s not clear when the staff and students will return to campus, she said, noting that based on conversations with state officials it’s unlikely to happen prior to July. Therefore, officials need to look at areas where they can save money.

The university is in the information gathering phase, so no decisions have been made at this time. As part of that information gathering process, Edwards has asked department supervisors to identify positions whose hours can be temporarily or permanently reduced, she said Monday.

The idea is to cut back the hours for certain positions to a percentage, Edwards said. For instance, she said, the university may determine some employees’ time could be reduced to 75% or 80%. Or, they may determine that an employee in the student services department needs to remain at 100%.

There are currently no plans to cut positions or furlough employees, the university president said.

Employees whose pay is cut because of the reduction in hours may maintain their health benefits, and will likely be eligible for unemployment. School officials have developed a website with information that will assist employees who are affected.

It’s not clear at this time how much the university will save until they’ve gathered all of the information, Edwards said.

“There’s a lot of variables that are still in play and we’re still in the planning process,” she said. “The aim is to save as much as we possibly can between June and July, so that at the end of the day, any deficits that we’re going to encounter either in the fiscal year or next fiscal year, could be offset from loss.”

Professor Noeleen McIlvenna, president of the American Association of University Professors at WSU, said “we hope that the university administration can find ways to cut costs while still preserving the best possible academic experience for our students.”

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