By Madelin Shelton and Eli Hughes
President Neeli Bendapudi has announced the actions that the University of Louisville will take to help alleviate some of the financial effects of COVID-19.
According to Bendapudi’s email, U of L is expected to lose $39 million by the end of the fiscal year. The athletic department is expected to add another $15 million to that loss.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our University, hometown, state and nation has created a great deal of uncertainty for all of us,” said Bendapudi.
“From the very beginning, I have expressed to all of you that my utmost responsibility is to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff during this unprecedented time.”
Some of the actions already implemented include pay reductions for senior leadership and athletics administrators, a hiring freeze and various spending reductions. However, Bendapudi went on to detail the necessity of further action to cut university costs due to the financial havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among these, the university retirement contributions for all employees will be stopped from May 1 through July 31 and some staff members will be subject to a temporary furlough at the discretion of their unit’s vice president, dean or vice provost. The furloughs could be for varying amounts of time dependent on the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, all faculty and some staff members earning between $58,000 to $99,999 will see a 1% pay reduction for the months of May and June.
Bendapudi emphasized that deciding to suspend the retirement match program was not an easy one, but one that is common among institutions of U of L’s size when facing financial crises. The university hopes to reinstate the match program by August 1.
John Karman, U of L director of media relations, said that there is a chance the missed retirement contributions could be made up at a later date. “There is a hope that these contributions can be provided to employees at a later time if our financial picture improves, but there are no guarantees,” Karman said.
To help mitigate the financial impact on furloughed employees in the meantime, the university has decided to cover the full cost of their health insurance, including both employer and employee premiums. These individuals will also maintain access to their tuition remission and are able to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
Bendapudi also included resources available to employees facing financial difficulties, specifically encouraging those facing hardship to apply for the Staff Help Assistance Relief Effort program.
Bendapudi noted that the new actions are based on projections of returning the university back to normal operations on June 30. The lingering effects of COVID-19 could force the budget to be altered and further adjustments to be taken.
File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal