MSU Denver will furlough faculty and staff in face of $14M budget shortfall

Metropolitan State University of Denver is instituting mandatory, unpaid furlough days effective immediately for all staff and faculty who make more than $50,000 annually over the course of the next fiscal year that ends in June of 2021, the university announced Monday.

The furloughs, which are effective immediately, are a cost-reduction tool used to address the budget shortfall largely a result of the pandemic’s massive impact on higher education, Larry Sampler, MSU Denver’s vice president of administration, said in a message to the university’s employees.

Fall enrollment at the Denver commuter campus is expected to decline by 10%, Sampler said. MSU Denver anticipates a $14 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. The furloughs are budgeted to provide $1.1 million in savings, Sampler said.

MSU Denver also eliminated 10 positions on July 10, said Tim Carroll, university spokesman

The message to employees came with a tiered table for determining how many unpaid furlough days employees must take. Those making $50,000 to $89,999 will be expected to take five unpaid days off, resulting in a 1.9% salary reduction. The more an employee earns, the more days they will be asked to take off, maxing out at 13 days off for a 5% salary reduction, the chart reads.

University of Colorado campuses and other institutions across the state have implemented furloughs to try to address the financial toll COVID-19 has had on higher education.

MSU Denver allowed employees to voluntarily furlough themselves as a cost-cutting measure beginning in June, Carroll, said. Employees who chose to take unpaid time off will not have to take more unless they took fewer days off than what is required of them under Monday’s furlough plan, he said.

Employees will have to work with their supervisors to determine what furlough days work best for them and their department, Carroll said.

“The key will be to implement the furlough days without sacrificing student contact hours, course content or learning objectives,” Bill Henry, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, wrote in a message to faculty. “In a time of dramatic disruptions, we need to make sure we continue to prioritize teaching and student support. That may mean we need to lower expectations for scholarship, professional development and service for the year to compensate for the reduction in work time.”

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