Coronavirus: University of Dayton announces hundreds of layoffs, furloughs in response to virus

DAYTON — The University of Dayton is laying off or furloughing hundreds in response to the financial strain created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“To help achieve a reduction in payroll expenses, this week we notified 446 people that they will be furloughed, and notified an additional 60 people that their positions are being eliminated. This is approximately 18 percent of our total full-time workforce and 23 percent of our full-time staff,” President Eric Spina said in a letter to the campus released today [Tuesday].

He explained that a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence during which employees retain university benefits.

All units of the university are affected by the furloughs and layoffs, he said. In early April and through at least October, he said, senior leaders took voluntary 20% pay reductions, and he has taken a 30% pay reduction.

“In making decisions about which positions were affected, it was necessary that I consider the expected reduced summer workload, with virtually no students or events on campus, and the need to preserve resources for the fall and beyond,” Spina said.

These decisions are based on the university’s immediate operational and financial needs as the university navigates this challenging summer, he said.

Given the lack of a vaccine, continued social distancing, and the close contact of students, faculty and staff in residential facilities, classrooms, the chapel, and other campus gathering places, UD leadership was called to plan for a range of scenarios, Spina said.

“While we are actively planning for students to return to campus this fall and will do whatever we reasonably can to achieve this, we must also plan for the very real possibility that public health officials and our own responsibility to care for the safety and well-being of our campus community would require us to delay in-person instruction and campus life,” he said.

If this occurs, Spina said, fall semester revenue from tuition, room, and board could be delayed and drastically diminished for several months or the entire semester. In addition to existing fixed costs, UD’s financial aid expenses will be higher no matter when or how students return to campus because so many families have been impacted financially by the pandemic and it is imperative UD makes it possible for them to return.

Spina said the university also has eliminated merit increases for faculty and staff for the 2020-21 academic year and pausing all university contributions to employee retirement accounts from May 25 until Oct. 1.

UD hopes to bring back furloughed employees as soon as possible, he said, but much depends on how the pandemic and public health requirements will affect when the fall semester begins, projected tuition revenue, and what financial aid is ultimately needed by UD students.

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