GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

UW-Green Bay announces employee furloughs, indefinite suspension of tennis teams

Coronavirus

Notice: This story has been corrected to say 227 furloughed employees based on a correction from UWGB.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Over 220 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay staff members will be placed on furlough from May 2 through May 31, according to campus leaders. All administrators with an annual salary above $100,000 are also taking a voluntary furlough.

“It is terribly unfortunate that the COVID19 pandemic has forced our hand,” said Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven in a memorandum to UW-Green Bay faculty and staff announcing the decision. “Today, we must announce plans to enact furloughs at UW-Green Bay to protect the future of the institution. This disruption in our lives and our livelihood is one that is greatly disappointing, considering the amazing momentum we had heading into the 2020-21 academic year. Although our financial health is not in jeopardy at this particular time, the reality is, we lost $3 million in revenue in just the past month and we must navigate risk until we can find some level of normalcy. We must also position ourselves to maintain healthy cash balances in the event we experience additional losses in revenue and other funding sources.”

According to UWGB, all 227 furloughed employees began receiving notices on Thursday.

Furloughs allow members of the campus community to retain their benefits, yet still be eligible for unemployment compensation.

Related: UW-Oshkosh to furlough employees as school experiences financial challenges during coronavirus pandemic

Following Governor Evers’ Safer at Home extension, UW-Green Bay announced that it would close campus through May 31, 2020. For the summer, the University announced the delivery of more than 200 classes online and canceled on-campus summer camps, providing a number of new online and remotely delivered camp experiences, instead. This decision drastically cut the workload for a number of employees.

UWGB athletics has also announced the indefinite suspension of its men’s and women’s tennis teams at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year. The university says “several long-standing challenges have continued to hinder the opportunity for growth of the program and have contributed to rising costs that are outpacing revenue, the most significant of which is the lack of an on-campus tennis facility and off-campus rental costs.”

“Based on past expenditures the suspension of these two programs will result in a savings of approximately $170,000 operationally per year and $160,000 in athletic tuition scholarships awarded per year. This decision does not impact Division I status nor membership in the Horizon League.”

Because of travel restrictions, the uncertainty of International Education opportunities, and the immediate drastic decrease in international activity, the University also laid off four positions in the Office of International Education. 

“We need to protect our institution by ensuring we have enough financial reserves to be able to react calmly and strategically to any adverse financial situation we face in the future. Failure to act now, could put our staff and our ability to deliver a quality education to our students in much greater danger in the Fall,” said Chancellor Elect Michael Alexander. “This University has a history of overcoming challenges through creativity and toughness. It will be difficult, but we will get through these unprecedented and disruptive times, together.”

UW-Green Bay expects to see about $250,000 in cost recovery with the furlough, in addition to the savings from International Education and Athletics. Faculty and other nine-month employees were exempt from furloughs for this fiscal year. Campus leaders will present a “state of the University” at a virtual meeting with members of the campus community on May 1, 2020.  

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh announced similar furloughs earlier in April.

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