The Rutgers University board of governors on Wednesday approved a budget calling for wage freezes, furloughs and a ban on business travel expenses, as it sees nearly $100 million in tuition and other revenues evaporate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday’s budget, which covers university expenses through June 30, 2021, clocks in at $4.5 billion across the New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses.
New construction projects are frozen while existing ones could see cuts and delays.
Hundreds of library staff and part-time lecturers could see their positions on the chopping block in the near future, under this approved spending plan.
“Many services are curtailed on campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminating the current need for some staff positions,” said Dory Devlin, a spokesperson for the university. “Where possible, we have entered and will enter shared-work programs that include furloughs as we look to control costs and preserve jobs.”
Dozens of part-time, adjunct professors and union leaders spoke in opposition to the spending plan during the Wednesday board meeting.
“There are hundreds of Rutgers [part-time lecturers] that were effectively fired starting in the spring of 2020. Those cuts are still happening. The majority of Rutgers PTLs don’t have meaningful job security, don’t have health care,” reads a statement from the Rutgers’ part-time lecturer union, the Rutgers PTLFC-AAUP-AFT.
University officials said Rutgers lost nearly $74 million from auxiliary fees – such as athletics housing, dining and parking – and $43 million in health care revenues due to a three-month, state-mandated ban on elective medical procedures.
Another $11.2 million in gifts and investment into the university has evaporated, in addition to tuition freezes the university enacted over the summer.
Still, Rutgers saw a restoration of $86.6 million in state aid as part of a statewide $32.7 billion budget, which university officials said allowed them to push off many steep cuts. For example, that, in part, enabled the university to keep 23,600 employees on hand.
All told, Rutgers depends on $437 million in state aid.
“Even with the restoration of $86.6 million in previously proposed cuts in state operating aid to the university, we are still in a fiscal emergency requiring extraordinary steps to fill the largest financial hole the university has ever experienced,” Rutgers Chief Financial Officer Michael Gower said in a Wednesday statement.