Temple University recently generated a flood of goodwill for offering up its Liacouras Center as a surge space for coronavirus hospital beds.
Inside the city’s largest university, however, officials are bracing for another storm.
The school is imposing a 10% pay cut for all executive staff as it braces for financial austerity, according to an email reviewed by Billy Penn. An academic union says it is also asking staff to forgo raises as part of the sweeping budget cuts.
Details were broadly outlined in a memo sent out to faculty on Tuesday. Ken Kaiser, Temple’s chief financial officer and treasurer, said the sudden disruptions to campus life, including the rapid shift to online classes, have been costly.
The pandemic “put a major strain on university finances in the form of lost revenue from conferences and events, and refunds to students for unused housing, meal plans and parking charges,” Kaiser wrote.
Administration officials are seeking a 5% budget reduction for the coming fiscal year, which will include cuts across every department.
Kaiser said that while Temple will receive millions in federal relief through the CARES Act, “a large share” of those funds must be passed through to students (at least 50%, according to the U.S. Dept. of Ed.). “The remainder will come nowhere near to making up for the losses we have suffered so far, much less make up for what we might experience in the future,” the university treasurer said.
Temple has already implemented an administrative hiring freeze. Now, salaries for senior university officials — officers, deans and advisors to President Richard M. Englert — will be reduced by 10% beginning in May, according to the email. Non-unionized Temple employees earning more than $100,000 annually will see pay reductions of 5%.
Steve Newman, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals, a union that represents 2,700 professors, librarians and other academic professionals, said the administration is seeking concessions from the bargaining unit to help secure costs.
The ask: for full-time faculty to give up their recently negotiated 1.625% cost of living increase 1.25% merit increase for 2021 academic year.
Newman said discussions remain ongoing. The union is seeking clarity on the university’s financial situation, including the $343 million in cash assets it showed at the end of the last fiscal year.
“If that’s a rainy day fund, it’s pouring right now,” he said.
Newman added that the union recognizes the scope of suffering brought on by the unprecedented economic crisis, and it remains willing to negotiate. While layoffs have not yet been proposed, the union says it will oppose any job losses for its full- and part-time members.
“The union wants to make sure educational quality is preserved,” Newman said. “We believe they should spend some of their reserves down at first.”
Temple spokesperson Morgan Zalot said the university doesn’t have any additional comment beyond the letter at this time.