HUNTINGTON — In an email message Thursday afternoon, Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert announced he is preparing to submit a budget reduction proposal to the university’s board of governors, including temporary salary cuts for some employees.
In the email, Gilbert said the cost-cutting measures are necessary to balance the institution’s fiscal year 2021 budget in the face of projected enrollment declines for the fall semester due to COVID-19.
If the board approves the proposal, the university will implement Part 1 of the temporary salary reductions, which is for employees making $100,000 or more annually. The reductions will be effective with the pay period that starts July 4, and employees who make more will have higher percentage reductions.
Examples from the salary reduction scale include the following: 6% reduction at $107,900; 7% reduction at $133,800; 8% reduction at $175,400; 9% reduction at $215,400; and 10% reduction at $262,400. The maximum reduction will be 15% at $470,000.
Part 1 affects 142 employees, a university spokesperson said.
Gilbert said that after classes begin in August, administrators will know what to expect from tuition revenue and can determine whether or not additional salary reductions are necessary. If so, the university will implement Part 2 of the temporary salary reductions Aug. 29 for employees whose annual salaries are in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.
Some example data points on the Part 2 salary reduction scale are: 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.
Employees with salaries below $50,000 will not experience any salary reductions, Gilbert said.
“Let me assure you it is our intent for the temporary salary reductions … to last no longer than one year,” Gilbert said in the email. “It is possible salaries could be restored to their full levels at any time during the fiscal year, depending on university revenues. Vice President Mark Robinson and I will be closely monitoring our financial status to be prepared to take restorative action as soon as appropriate.”
It is still undetermined if the reductions include athletic coaches, said a university spokesperson. Coaches are contracted and would need to voluntarily take a reduction.
The Marshall University Research Corp. and the Marshall University Foundation will be following the same salary reduction levels and timelines for their employees. Their boards must also approve the plan.
In addition to the temporary salary reductions, the proposal to the board will include 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 will save $1 million a year due to strategic refinancing of university bonds in April.
In April, the board tabled the budget to wait on a fuller picture of the effect the pandemic would have on the upcoming year. The administration estimated an $8 million budget hole. Gilbert and Provost Jaime Taylor each took pay cuts starting in April.
While the university has had positive budget years recently, the current gap is estimated as the pandemic leaves major funding sources in question — from the number of new and returning students to sport functions. It has been estimated that up to 15% of college students may not return to campuses across the country due to the threat of the novel coronavirus and the financial impacts, like job loss, the virus has caused.
The next board meeting is scheduled for June 25.