Furloughs and layoffs announced at University of Dayton because of the coronavirus

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Hundreds of University of Dayton employees are being furloughed and some are being laid off. University President Dr. Eric Spina said it is because the pandemic caused unanticipated costs this spring and has made fall enrollment uncertain.

Spina said this eliminates 18 percent of workforce and 23 percent of full-time staff.

This week, 446 employees at the University of Dayton learned they are being furloughed while 60 more were notified they were laid off. Spina said it is happening during the quieter summer months and said the furloughed employees’ return depends on what the fall semester will look like.

“We are working toward in-person education, residential education in the fall,” said Spina. “We don’t know yet whether that will happen, we’re working with our public health commissioners in the state and the county.”

Spina said they already know they’re going to have very few new international students and that there’s going to be a lot more financial need for all students, so he said they will have to see fall enrollment numbers before any further decisions can be made.

“Our current enrollment, as we project next year’s Freshmen class, it looks strong but these are students and families who want residential education at the University of Dayton,” said Spina. “And at this point, until the state says, ‘Yes you can have 11,000 students on your campus, here are the expectations in terms of social distancing,’ until we have that agreement with the state, we can’t guarantee we can provide them that residential education that they want.”

Spina said these are all staff members, which generally work at the University under a year-long contract as opposed to faculty members which generally have a nine-month long contract that coincides with the academic year. But Spina said faculty members could also soon be impacted.

“We made a commitment to tenured and tenured-track faculty that they would come back next year,” said Spina. “We also have a number of full-time non-tenured track faculty. Those contracts are typically renewed around this time of year for next year. Because the fall is uncertain, we’re delaying those a little until a little bit later in the Summer to determine whether we’re going to have the same number of enrollment on campus.”

Spina said these employee cuts are in addition to other steps the university is taking.

“Between now and October 1, we are suspending the University’s contribution to retirement accounts for faculty and staff,” said Spina.

UD has also implemented a hiring freeze, deferred nearly all capital projects, and senior leaders, including Spina took voluntary pay reductions.

Spina said they do have money in reserves, but they’re trying not to tap into that fund yet because they have to think more long term.

“Right now, it’s rainy and these are rainy day funds and the question is why not use them?,” said Spina. “As we look to the fall, we’re uncertain. Fall could be a deluge, not just a rainy day if our students can’t come back to campus, so we need to hold our reserves for the academic year rather than spending them now during summer when there’s really not a lot going on on campus.”

Spina said there’s some confusion about endowments and the unrestricted reserves.

He said the school does have a number of endowments but these are from donors and have to be used for a specific purpose, such as scholarships. So they can’t be used for emergency purposes like the pandemic.

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