As the COVID-19 crisis continues to put strains on higher education, Saint Peter’s University has become no stranger to additional financial burden and has made “some very difficult decisions” in the form of furloughs, salary cuts and a hiring freeze.
In an email sent to university employees, President Eugene Cornacchia, Ph.D. explained that the decisions were made to “address our immediate (approximately $4-5 million) and anticipated FY’21 (approximately $12-15 million) financial shortfalls.”
“We have determined that we need to take the following steps to reduce costs and maintain fiscal stability while continuing to serve our students,” the email read.
According to the email, 45 employees will be furloughed on Tuesday, May 5 because they are unable to perform their necessary job responsibilities remotely. Those furloughed will be able to keep their current health benefits and are still eligible for free tuition for themselves and their children.
It was not made immediately clear just how long these employees will be placed on leave for.
Along with the intended furloughs, there will be tiered salary reductions for all staff and administrators. Cornacchia and his cabinet will be taking an 11 percent pay cut, while other employees will face the following salary reductions:
More than $100K: nine percent
$75K - $100K: seven percent
$50K - $75K: five percent
Less than $50K: two percent
During this time, the university will only be hiring individuals that are necessary to the “operational continuity or health and safety” of the school.
In his email, Cornacchia also mentioned that soon, he will be making an announcement about preliminary plans for opening the campus in the fall semester. Due to government mandates and the overall uncertainty of the virus, he stated that reopening could be a “gradual process.”
“This remains a period of great uncertainty. Our hope is to return to typical operations as soon as possible. However, whether or not there will be further economic disruptions to the university is unknown,” the email read.