President Carolyn J. Stefanco sent the following email to Saint Rose employees today, April 15:
You may have read last week about a local private college, and colleges and universities across the country, announcing furloughs of a significant portion of their workforce as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19.
After Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the first “New York State on Pause” executive order, Saint Rose made the decision to pay our employees – even those who did not have jobs that could be conducted remotely – their full wages through April 19. We felt it was important to put their needs first in this unsettled time. However, Governor Cuomo has now extended his executive order to close in-office and onsite functions at non-essential businesses statewide through the end of April, and the College leadership is faced with some difficult decisions.
As you know, the financial picture at Saint Rose has been concerning for some time, a scenario common throughout higher education. The necessary steps taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 have not brightened that picture. Room and board refunds and credits to students who had to move off campus now total approximately $3.1 million. There continues to be additional lost revenue from canceled conferences, events, and space rentals, and the College incurred expenses so that faculty could deliver the remainder of the Spring 2020 courses online.
Although we are grateful for federal funding through the CARES Act, it will only cover approximately half of the room and board losses incurred by the College. The federal government has directed the remainder of the federal funding to go directly to students.
The College is now looking at an approximately $15.8 million deficit heading into the next fiscal year if cost-saving steps are not taken. Considering this, the College is taking the following actions, which will reduce the projected deficit to about $13.5 million:
• Since we cannot conduct on-campus classes and events through the remainder of the Spring 2020 Semester, the College will furlough 61 administrators and staff – representing less than 10% of our workforce – from April 20 through June 28, 2020. Those employees, who will be notified today of this decision, will be able to use their vacation time in order to delay their furlough start date. Recently announced increased unemployment benefits have allowed us to make this difficult decision knowing our employees have a government-funded safety net. Employees will retain their Saint Rose health benefits through their furlough period.
• The College will reduce salaries for administrators and non-unionized staff by -5% for those making $50,000 to $100,000, and by -10% for those making above $100,000 through June 28, 2020. The salary reduction will be first reflected in the paycheck issued on May 6.
• The College has reduced the number of unused vacation days that administrators and staff can carry over into the new fiscal year from 10 days to five days for full-time employees. Therefore, administrators who have vacation time accrued in excess of five days should take those days before June 30, 2020, or they will be lost. The vacation carry-over for part-time employees will be pro-rated accordingly. This represents a phasing-out of the administrator and staff vacation carry-over. Next fiscal year, in an effort to address the College’s financial situation, the vacation carry-over for administrators and staff will be eliminated.
We know this is challenging news, as employees may have family members facing furloughs and layoffs, or may have experienced the impact of COVID-19 in other ways. Our focus remains on what is best for the future of the College and all of its employees, and we remain grateful for those who work so hard to serve our students each day. The decisions that will be made in the coming year to navigate our existing financial challenges, and forced COVID-19 financial challenges, will be difficult and necessary. However, those decisions, as challenging as they will be, will be made with a faithful vision of brighter days ahead for The College of Saint Rose.