Bowling Green State University is fully rescinding furloughs for all administrative and classified staff members and faculty administrators.
According to a letter issued by President Rodney Rogers on Tuesday, the state funding cut is not as deep as the 20% expected.
“Yesterday, we were notified that our state funding represents a year-over-year line item reduction of 4.38% as compared to HB166 appropriations,” Rogers wrote. “While this is positive news, we were also notified that this new FY21 funding is subject to change if the overall budget and supporting state revenue sources were to significantly worsen during the fiscal year compared to current projections.”
In April, the trustees unanimously approved a policy allowing for furloughs for administrative and classified staff members and faculty administrators. These furloughs, scheduled to begin July 1, would have temporarily saved the university approximately $3.1 million in fiscal year 2021.
“Given the positive financial update from Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner, we are fully rescinding furloughs for all administrative and classified staff members and faculty administrators,” Rogers said.
Administrative staff members and faculty administrators who have already taken furlough days since July 1, may record time as vacation by the end of July. Classified staff members who have already taken furlough days since July 1, the time will automatically be corrected by the payroll office to reflect paid leave.
“I want to thank Gov. (Mike) DeWine and Chancellor Gardner for their support and investment in higher education. We are fortunate that this reduction was substantially less than projected. We are beginning to work through just what the year-over-year line item reduction means for BGSU in other areas,” Rogers said.
Furloughs may be reconsidered in the future.
“We believe we are in a sound position to address furloughs now and forgo the decrease. It is not lost on me, the board of trustees or the university’s senior leadership team the negative impact furloughs have on those affected employees. These are challenging times, and we appreciate their commitment to BGSU,” he said.
The university is still projecting a decline in enrollment, and the long-term financial impact of coronavirus is still unknown, Rogers said.
“We must remain focused on the imperatives of our strategic plan. We made significant changes to our non-academic areas, and we will continue our work to identify opportunities to become more effective and efficient within our academic colleges. We look forward to working with the leadership of Faculty Senate and the BGSU-FA as we continue to consider these financial decisions,” he said.
“This global pandemic has forever changed our world. Higher education will never be the same, and no one has all the answers. However, if we work together and are flexible, we will not only meet this watershed moment, but exemplify a 21st-century public university for the public good. When we are on the other side of this crisis, we will be an even stronger community and university.”
DeWine announced a State of Emergency on March 9, then asked all public agencies and organizations, including colleges and universities, to plan for a 20% decline in state funding.
“That guidance shaped our budgetary planning this spring,” Rogers said. “Before COVID-19, our university was in a sound financial position. We were good stewards of taxpayer funding, our comprehensive fundraising campaign was making history and our enrollments were vibrant and healthy. Our $29 million projected budget shortfall for FY21 reflected an expected decrease in state funding and enrollment declines.
“We were able to work through these projected budget challenges over the next two fiscal years, unlike many public universities in Ohio that did not have this luxury. This required temporary and permanent funding solutions.”
On May 15, the trustees voted to lay off 119 people, saving $13.5 million.
In a later interview, Rogers explained the difference between a furlough and a lost job.
“A furlough isn’t a layoff. We are not unemploying someone. Basically, it’s temporary. We’re requiring them to have some unpaid days in their work year. It’s more of a reduction in overall compensation. It is not a layoff and therefore not eligible for unemployment,” Rogers said.
“The intent would be to spread those furlough days through the entire fiscal year, although we have not made any final decisions at this point.”
In a followup email, the university said in a statement that the administration is beginning to work through just what the year-over-year line item reduction means for BGSU in other areas, including the consideration of rehiring laid off and non-renewed employees.
At this time, BGSU has not made any final employment decisions in response to this recent budget update.