The Faculty Association has learned that the LeBlanc administration plans to announce a 10-15% salary cut for all faculty next week. We have taken the unusual step of attempting to reach every full-time* faculty member at GW because we think you deserve to know about administrative decisions that will directly impact your livelihood.
There are many ways that the budget shortfall can be addressed without directly harming the people who make our university work. Finance experts in the Faculty Senate have shown that GW’s budget shortfall, while serious, is temporary and manageable, and they have put forward a variety of alternatives to the administration that do not involve sacrificing people’s income in the midst of a virological and economic crisis.
The layoffs the administration is enacting are unnecessary.
The planned across-the-board pay cut for faculty is unnecessary.
Let’s remember a few things:
- Your salary has already been cut. GW’s matching contributions for retirement ($1.50 for every $1 you contributed) were part of your compensation. Without this match, your before-tax salary is taking a hit. The freeze on our merit raises amounts to lost compensation as well. Now they are planning to take even more.
- Our colleagues in the Faculty Senate proposed measures to meet any short-term dips in GW’s operating revenues. Instead of enacting these sensible and faculty-designed options, the administration has moved to layoffs, suspension of benefits, and pay cuts for the most vulnerable among us. The administration is choosing to address the short-term budget shortfall by disproportionately harming its employees. Meanwhile, one of the measures proposed by the Senate is a cut to top-paid administrators’ special benefits and deferred compensation, which they have chosen to ignore.
- Increasing the payout from GW’s $1.78 billion endowment is still an option. Even expert university administrators admit that a 7% endowment payout is sustainable. That is just 2% above the legally mandated amount for non-profits like GW. According to the Faculty Senate’s proposal, even raising the payout by 1% would result in 16 million dollars. Increasing the payout of the endowment by this moderate amount should be the first move, not the last.
- Months ago, GW secured a $300 million line of credit, backed by its considerable real estate holdings, to address the COVID crisis. Yet the university has not accessed it.
- Drawing on reserves within each school would also help mitigate the budget shortfall, but it is unclear that the administration has even considered accessing these “rainy day funds.”
- The administration’s claim of a new budget shortfall of $220 million has not been documented nor has it been verified by the Faculty Senate. Despite repeated requests from the Faculty Senate, the administration has consistently refused to provide the data to verify this projected shortfall.
And let’s consider a few questions:
- Why does the university administration continue to ignore the perfectly feasible fiscal options the Faculty Senate has proposed? Is the administration taking advantage of the ongoing crisis in order to implement its 20/30 plan?
- How can the university justify laying off our colleagues, suspending our benefits, and cutting our salaries for an indeterminate period without cutting the administration’s million-dollar salaries, bonuses, and perks? (Will we ever recoup our losses, in personnel and in our personal finances?) The 20% cut to President LeBlanc’s base salary, for example, is set to expire in January 2021, to say nothing of additional compensation accruing to him and other senior administrators. Why are faculty and staff members being forced to bear the burden of the budget shortfall?
- Why, immediately following the announcement of the updated $220 million budget shortfall, did the University announce yet another senior administrative hire, a new Vice President for Communications and Marketing? This is the third senior administrative hire since the COVID crisis began and the GW administration announced a University-wide hiring freeze.
- Why are the only faculty involved in any of these decisions those that are currently administrators? What ever happened to shared governance at GW?
The Faculty Association finds these points and unanswered questions alarming. We have emailed every full-time* faculty member at GW because we suspect you may be alarmed too.
We would like to hear from you. Let us know how you think the faculty—all of us who actually accomplish the teaching, research, and service missions of the university—should respond to this situation. Tell us what you are witnessing or experiencing in your corner of GW. We will collect your suggestions and information, and offer responses asap.
By the way, if you have not heard of the GWU Faculty Association before, we would like to welcome you to join. It’s a bargain: free. Membership simply means we’ll keep you up-to-date on anything we learn that might affect your ability to do your job and feed your families.
*We specify “full-time” here because it is not yet clear how the pay cut would affect part-time faculty members who are represented by SEIU Local 500. GWUFA works in full solidarity with the union and our part-time colleagues.
The GWU Faculty Association