'U' freezes faculty salary, hiring as coronavirus pandemic slows revenue

Monday, April 20, 2020 - 2:46pm

U-M President Mark Schlissel announced a salary freeze for University faculty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

U-M President Mark Schlissel announced a salary freeze for University faculty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Buy this photo
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Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, released a statement regarding the University’s financial situation. According to Schlissel, the University is expected to lose between $400 million and $1 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The University is taking immediate action to this expected loss in revenue by restricting pay in nonessential University business. These financial restrictions apply to all three University campuses and Michigan Medicine. 

“We must work to preserve financial resources wherever we can,” Schlissel said. “Some of the actions below are amplifications of previously announced plans, or they draw a clearer line for how we will proceed in the coming months. These actions apply to all three campuses and Michigan Medicine.”

In response to the expected loss of revenue, the University is freezing new hires, faculty and staff salaries and reducing hours. The University is also going to begin implementing voluntary furlough programs for “regular staff in non-critical operations.” Research and employment critical to COVID-19 relief will continue to be funded by the University. 

University leaders are also cutting their own salaries, with Schlissel, U-M Flint Chancellor Debasish Dutta and U-M Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso to receive a 10 percent pay cut to their monthly income. Other members of University leadership are cutting their salary by 5 percent. 

Campus construction projects will also be discontinued. According to Schlissel, financial changes will determine the continuation of these projects in the future. 

University spokesman Rick Fitgerald told The Daily in an email they had no additional information and urged those interested to look at the University’s FAQ section about COVID-19 for more details on the University’s response.

Schlissel said the University may have to take additional measures in the future to secure the safety of its students, faculty and staff, but nothing is confirmed as of Monday.

“In the months ahead, we may have to take additional measures to address growing consequences of the pandemic,” Schlissel said. “For instance, work that is available now under the current conditions may not be available in future months. We also must keep in mind the operational and resource needs when we are able to ramp back up. This will depend on state orders and federal guidelines, and it’s important to note that it won’t be like flipping a switch.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., announced the University’s Ann Arbor campus would receive a total of $25,244,052 in emergency grants to cover “significant” financial losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Of that, a minimum of $12,622,026 will be allocated for emergency financial aid grants to students. The University of Michigan-Dearborn will receive $6,989,129, with minimum of $3,494,565 going toward emergency financial aid grants to students.

While the status of in-person classes resuming in the fall semester is still unknown, talk of canceling on-campus instruction has become more frequent among university administrators as coronavirus infections grow. Schlissel noted in his email that there are no clear answers on the status of fall classes, but he hopes in-person courses will be able to resume.

“We’re already working to plan for a more gradual return to normal activity, informed by strong public health guidance,” Schlissel wrote. “I remain cautiously optimistic that we will be able to deliver a public health-informed Fall semester on our three campuses.”

Daily Staff Reporter Jasmin Lee can be reached at itsshlee@umich.edu