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Email confirming mandatory furloughs – faculty

Email from Bill Henry, Ph.D., Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Aug. 3, 2020 

 

Dear MSU Denver faculty,

As anticipated in the July 20 budget update email, Metropolitan State University of Denver will be adopting mandatory furloughs for full-time faculty and non-classified staff effective today. With this year’s substantial cuts in state funding and fall enrollment still hovering in the range of a 10% decline, these cost-reduction measures are the best tool we have under the current circumstances to help address our budget shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

This means that all Cat I and Cat II faculty members earning an annual salary of at least $50,000 will be required to take five furlough days during the 2020-21 academic year as a temporary measure to reduce costs. Faculty members who are already participating in voluntary pay reductions, course release or leaves of absence would not be asked to take additional pay cuts unless their original voluntary reduction was less than the equivalent of five days.

After much discussion, University leaders decided on the furlough model because it provides faculty with an opportunity to take five additional days off throughout the academic year, rather than simply expecting people to do the same work for less money. I want to emphasize that this decision was made with the input and recommendations from many faculty members. We know it will be challenging, but our expectation is that department chairs, in consultation with their deans, will develop plans for managing furlough days in ways that make sense for faculty members as well as within the context of their unique departmental needs. Chairs and deans will have my full support in this endeavor. The key will be to implement the furlough days without sacrificing student contact hours, course content or learning objectives. In a time of dramatic disruptions, we need to make sure we continue to prioritize teaching and student support. That may mean we need to lower expectations for scholarship, professional development and service for the year to compensate for the reduction in work time. Relatedly, I’ve pulled together a committee to explore how we can/should adjust our evaluation procedures in light of the COVID-19 crisis, and the effect it is having on faculty’s ability to engage in these various aspects of their job.

While all of that sounds challenging, I am convinced that with creativity, flexibility and understanding, it should be possible to carve out 40 hours for each faculty member between now and the end of May.

The pay reduction associated with faculty furlough days will be evenly distributed across all paychecks throughout the fiscal year beginning with their first paycheck of the 2020-21 academic year. Therefore, faculty will not be required to report their specific furlough days to Human Resources.

All of this is in service of our University and its essential mission. This round of furloughs, when combined with those being taken by professional staff, will provide a combined $1.1 million in additional savings for the University and get us closer to bridging our budget shortfall.

As many of you have already heard, MSU Denver will not be providing salary increases based on CUPA averages this year. That said, the University remains committed to paying our faculty competitive salaries. In the coming year, we will begin a review of faculty salaries to expand the peers we use to determine salary levels, including some of our direct competitors. We are also committed to maintaining salary increases for promotion to associate and full professors, as well as for successfully completing post-tenure review.

I expect this email will generate questions. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to watch the recording of the Budget Recommendation Committee meeting from July 24. BRC members answered some understandably tough questions submitted by faculty from across the University community. If you don’t find answers there, please feel free to reach out to Shaun Schafer, Ph.D., associate vice president, curriculum and policy development, at sschafe5@msudenver.edu.

In addition, the Human Resources and Budget teams co-developed this Frequently Asked Questions webpage with more information. HR will also be reaching out to employees with additional details this month.

The global pandemic and resulting budget crunch continue to challenge our resolve. Thank you for your resiliency and, of course, your dedication to our students.

Sincerely,

Bill Henry, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


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