By Madelin Shelton —

University Provost Beth Boehm and Chief Financial Officer Dan Durbin have responded to The Louisville Cardinal’s request for comment over a recent story about the results of the U of L American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, survey.

In the survey, faculty reported substantial negative economic effects as a result of the University’s financial actions in response to COVID-19.

The survey provided recommendations for the university to mitigate these effects, including ending temporary salary cuts, putting the university’s full retirement benefit contributions back into place, putting faculty representation on important decision-making bodies in charge of budgeting, and planning for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Cardinal asked Boehm and Durbin to directly address the concerns of the AAUP in their correspondence. First, they detailed representation of faculty on important decision-making bodies related to COVID-19.

Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement from Boehm and Durbin said that faculty representation has been included on the Board of Trustees through Faculty Senate chairperson, who is a voting member of the board, on the COVID-19 Senior Leadership Group, on the Budget Planning and Monitoring Committee, and on the Academic Scenario Planning Committee.

Furthermore, Boehm and Durbin detailed meeting with faculty repeatedly through organizations including the Faculty Senate Leadership and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee throughout the COVID-19 crisis to update them on financial issues and seek their input on the budget and COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

In regard to following the AAUP recommendations of ending temporary salary cuts and reinstating full retirement benefit contributions, Durbin and Boehm said that salary reductions were temporary and only effective from April 1 through June 30, 2020.

“Retirement contributions were also partially restored on Aug. 1, 2020, to begin funding 2.5% of base salaries and the full 2.5% of optional contributions,” their statement said. “Future additions to the retirement plan funding will be evaluated in December based on the financial situation.”

When asked if the university administration had been in talks with the AAUP to seek out advice on the next steps, the statement said that Boehm had reached out to Melissa Merry, President of the U of L AAUP chapter, in response to the survey back in July.

The provost expressed being disheartened at the results of the survey, and detailed the tough financial situation the university has found itself in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The solutions are not easy but will require us all working together and from the same set of facts,” Boehm said in the email to Merry.

Boehm expressed a desire for further information about the results of the survey and the conclusions drawn from it.

“Once I have a better understanding of the survey instrument and of what the results tell us, I’d be happy to engage in the dialogue you suggest,” Boehm told Merry.

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal