Emptied universities tighten budgets after losing millions of dollars

2 mins read

While most universities and colleges await the country’s progress to determine whether they’ll hold in-person or online courses in summer and fall, they already started making major cutbacks. 

Adjusting to huge losses from the Covid-19 pandemic, US educational institutions attempt to keep their core staff and faculty, but spending freezes have been implemented across the country. 

“The health and safety of the NYU community remain overriding priorities,” wrote NYUs president, Andrew Hamilton in concert with provost Katherine Flemming and executive vice president, Martin Dorph. 

“Other core goals include fulfilling our responsibilities to our students and our research enterprise; maintaining our program of financial aid; retaining our outstanding faculty and other dedicated employees; resuming normal operations as soon as safely possible,” continued the NYU leadership.

However, NYU plans to carry out a “hiring freeze” and “maintain the ban on all non-essential spending,” to recover from a projected loss between spring and summer that will exceed $200 million.

The spending stoppage at educational institutions vary. From a range of cutbacks including halts in promotions; discontinuing faculty reimbursement; defunding research efforts; and removing annual salary increases, some institutions have even reduced faculty and staff pay. 

Academics versus Athletics

At Rutgers University, President Robert Barchi, announced cost-cutting measures for the schools $200 million loss to include a 10 percent reduction in salary for the schools chancellors and executive vice presidents over the next four months. Other top administrators, such as vice presidents, provosts, vice chancellors, deans and heads of sports, will see a 5 percent dip in their salaries.  

Not happy with Barchi’s decision, union members at Rutgers protested their school’s response to the Covid-19. President of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, Todd Wolfson, a professor in the School of Communication & Information called the freeze by Rutgers University “unfair austerity.” 

Rutgers’ freeze laid off hundreds of part-time teachers and indefinitely suspended pay raises to adjunct faculty and graduate students working as teaching assistants, after the university agreed to them in negotiations in 2019. 

Wolfson and accompanying union protestors carried out a 70-car caravan in front of Barchi’s house. Like Ohio University, who cut salaries of teachers, but left athletic departments almost fully intact, the Rutgers football coach, Greg Schiano, will maintain most of his  $4 million salary.  As universities navigate uncertain futures, there is a projected boom for community colleges. A study by Andrew Foote and Michel Grosz shows a jump in two-year and community colleges during economic turndowns. To answer to an expected shift in education and the economy, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) proposed another stimulus package, a $15 billion boost directed towards states, as well as colleges and universities, to retrain and reinvigorate the workforce.

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