CUNY orders furloughs of campus honchos to confront fiscal crisis

The head of the City University of New York has ordered furloughs for hundreds of top officials and administrators in the 25 campus system to address a daunting fiscal crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, The Post has learned.

CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez said he himself will be among the top managers who will be furloughed for five days.

“Unfortunately, with no sign of relief from the federal government, I am announcing an additional spending control measure,” Matos Rodriguez said in the letter sent Wednesday to CUNY faculty and staff.

“All managerial employees under the Executive Compensation Plan (ECP), committed administrators who serve at the highest levels of leadership throughout the University, will be furloughed five days this fiscal year,” Matos Rodriguez, who signed the letter with his nickname, “Felo.”

“As ECP members, the furloughs also impact myself and college presidents and deans.”

Executives covered include college presidents and deans, vice chancellors and assistant vice chancellors, university administrators, assistant vice presidents, association deans, associate administrators, associate administrators, assistant deans and assistant administrators, among others.

He said more direction on how the furloughs will be implemented will be sent in the coming days.

CUNY had no immediate comment about the precise number of executives and managers who will be furloughed and how much money will be saved by the action.

Matos Rodriguez warned that deeper cuts are on the horizon.

“We all have had to make sacrifices this year, and unfortunately, I expect more potentially difficult decisions in the near term,” the chancellor said.

Matos Rodriguez said he’s waiting to see what impact the elections will have on CUNY.

The chancellor announced the furloughs after laying out CUNY’s dire fiscal picture that has resulted in a massive budget shortfall — including from plummeting revenue and cuts in city and state funding.

He said CUNY has dipped into emergency reserves to help weather the storm.

“We have been forced to make decisions that only months ago seemed unthinkable,” he said.

The fiscal tsunami to hit CUNY includes:

• The city slashed funding for CUNY’s seven community colleges this academic year by $46.3 million — or nine percent of their operating budgets.

• The State is withholding 20 percent of funding in aid to the 11 four-year or senior colleges and seven community colleges and the tuition assistance program. He said the temporary withholding could become permanent cuts without a federal bailout.

• CUNY’s enrollment fell by 5.1 percent, resulting in a $52 million decline in revenue.

• Lost $32 million in revenue for the Spring 2020 semester due to a drop in tuition and other revenue collections..

• Spent $75 million on emergency costs related to the pandemic, including the purchase of laptops and iPads for students, the cost for deep cleaning buildings, overtime costs for public safety and facilities personnel, the purchase of PPEs and cleaning products, signage and other costs for the transitioning to distance learning across the system.

To help address the cash crunch CUNY imposed a systemwide hiring and spending freeze to save $33 million. Staffing levels have been slashed by 468 positions.

CUNY also curbed costs through remote learning for students, allowing for campus savings through the reduction of personnel hours and electricity savings.

Meanwhile the 16 percent increase in Summer Session enrollment generated additional revenue to help defray costs for the fall semester.

The university system is using $250 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — the CARES Act –to stay afloat. Of that amount, CUNY has distributed $118 million in direct aid to 197,000 students.

The remaining $132 million is being used for the current school year, with a third of it disbursed to cover reimbursement for students’ tuition and fees, health and wellness costs and IT infrastructure costs.

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