UVM temporary cuts hit College of Arts and Sciences, student services hardest

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The University of Vermont has walked back some of the 575 temporary positions it cut last month, according to school officials.

The net effect still leaves more than 400 without a job.

It is one of several ways the university has attempted to trim expenses amid the financial uncertainty posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Other measures include 25% pay cuts for non-tenure track faculty and deferring on $30 million in loans for progress on the Tarrant Center, the school’s long-awaited multi-purpose arena.

A records request by the Burlington Free Press sought further details on where the temporary cuts fell campus-wide, beyond the 18 full- and part-time positions shelved within the athletic department.

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

UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera said the number of affected positions fell from 575 to 412 since the Free Press’ original story appeared on May 28, after some were approved to be retained.

“These temporary positions were spread broadly across administrative and academic units and only a small number, fewer than three dozen, exceeded 30 hours per week,” Corredera wrote in an email. “None carried the expectation of continued employment.”

Which departments saw the most cuts?

The most concentrated staffing reductions were dealt to student services and the College of Arts and Sciences, according to data provided by UVM.

More than 160 positions were cut in student service roles ranging from campus athletics (108) to student government (29), the Center for Academic Success (11) and the Center for Health and Wellbeing (eight).

Fifty-six positions were cut within Arts and Sciences — including 28 in music, 10 in art and art history, and six in theatre and dance.

The full list of eliminated positions, provided by UVM, is attached at the bottom of this story. The cumulative cuts to each operating unit within the university were as follows: 

  • Academic affairs: 13.
  • Administration and facilities: 26.
  • Agriculture and Life Sciences: 17.
  • Arts and Sciences: 56.
  • Continuing education and UVM Extension: 7.
  • Education and Social Services: 24.
  • Engineering and Mathematics: 2
  • General institutional: 19.
  • Grossman School of Business: 8.
  • Honors College: 1.
  • Libraries: 7.
  • Medicine: 22.
  • Nursing and Health Sciences: 30.
  • Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources: 11.
  • Student Services: 169.

What went into UVM’s decision?

The months-long decision-making process that led to the original round of cost-saving cuts also spared 424 temporary positions, according to Corredera. The university did not provide a figure for the amount it expected to save.

“Temporary positions are filled based on need and available resources, and this will continue to be the case in the future,” Corredera wrote in an email. “Redistributing work currently performed by temporary employees, as well as the partial reduction in workload for some of our lecturers and the recent offering of a voluntary summer furlough program, are driven by our strong desire to save permanent employees’ jobs.”

The decision to reduce lecturers’ workloads and pay by 25% came at the same time as the university’s decision to impose an 8.3% salary reduction on deans.

According to UVM’s most recent published payroll figures, the highest-paid lecturer makes just shy of $124,000, while the highest-paid dean pulls in $663,000.

More: Faculty pay changes anticipated at UVM spark backlash: Here’s why some consider them unfair

“The university has not imposed any pay cuts on any faculty,” UVM President Suresh Garimella told the Free Press earlier this year. “It’s a question of change in FTE (full-time equivalency), which is, you know, the amount of time they teach. It’s their workload and it’s not a pay cut.” 

Garimella and other senior officials opted to not receive a salary in April. He stressed that UVM’s tenured faculty kept 100% of their workload, per their collective bargaining agreement with the school. 

“It’s incorrect, factually incorrect, to call it a pay cut,” Garimella said. “Non-tenure track lecturers and such have their terms. We’re simply following the terms.” 

More: Work on UVM’s Tarrant Center delayed by COVID-19 pandemic

Contact Austin Danforth at 651-4851 or edanforth@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @eadanforth.

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