UVM suspends nearly 600 positions, 18 in athletic department, in response to coronavirus

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In its “response to the ongoing challenges posed” by the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Vermont has suspended 575 temporary employees, including a combination of 18 full-time and part-time positions in the athletic department, school officials told the Burlington Free Press on Thursday.

“By definition, temporary employees have temporary appointments with no expectation of continued work,” UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera said in a statement provided to the Free Press. “This action was taken as a way for the university to avoid costs for work that can be allocated in other ways or may not be necessary under current conditions.” 

Corredera also said, “to date, no permanent positions have been eliminated in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” but could not provide a dollar figure on the financial relief from this workforce reduction. In the statement, Corredera said UVM stopped “its engagement with 575 non-student temporary employees as of May 15.”

Impact on athletic department

In the athletic department, the programs affected include: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and swimming and diving. In addition, the department suspended two assistant athletic communications jobs as well as positions in campus recreation, sport psychology and business operation, according to Athletic Director Jeff Schulman.

“Obviously, these are very difficult decisions that have impact on our colleagues and our people that we care deeply about and who are important members of our athletic department team,” Schulman said. “We also understand that these are difficult times for everyone and UVM and UVM athletics are not immune to the financial challenges that are impacting businesses and organizations everywhere.”

Schulman said many of the temporary employees are under contract in 9-to-10-month positions and wouldn’t actively be working during the slow months of early summer. However, Schulman noted the positions were suspended and not eliminated or lost.

“The temporary nature of these positions means they could be added back when financial circumstances in the department and the university allow,” Schulman said.

Positions no longer listed

On the staff page on the UVM athletic department’s website, the following team positions are no longer listed:

  • Men’s basketball: Assistant to the head coach; director of operations.
  • Women’s basketball: Director of operations.
  • Men’s hockey: Director of operations.
  • Women’s hockey: Director of operations.
  • Swimming/diving: A second assistant coach.
  • Field hockey: A second assistant coach.
  • Men’s soccer: A third assistant coach.
  • Women’s soccer: A second assistant coach.

Of the 18 positions in athletics, five were open when UVM made its decision earlier this month. The athletic department has 85 full-timers not counting temporary employees. In total, there are 4,233 faculty and staff, including full and part-time, who work for UVM.

The school is currently in a hiring freeze, which has delayed new men’s hockey coach Todd Woodcroft‘s ability to finalize his coaching staff. Woodcroft said in a text message to the Free Press on Thursday that Jeff Hill, a holdover from Kevin Sneddon’s staff, has been retained. The hiring of another assistant coach could be announced in the coming weeks, Woodcroft said.

UVM has grappled with financial concerns since the health crisis started in March. Non-tenure track faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences were asked to work at 75% of their usual workload — and consequently receive lower pay — and deans of colleges can take a voluntary 8.3% pay cut. Suresh Garimella, in his first year as UVM’s president, gave up his base pay for April, according to the school’s newspaper, The Vermont Cynic.

Contact Alex Abrami at 660-1848 or aabrami@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @aabrami5.

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