KENT, Ohio — Kent State University’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved employee pay cuts and buyouts as part of the university’s plan to offset losses incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The board met virtually through Zoom and approved salary cuts for non-union employees for fiscal year 2021, which begins in July 2020; modifications to two union contracts; and a buyout incentive program for some employees.
Kent State President Todd Diacon announced last week that the university intends to reduce spending to offset as much as $110 million in losses incurred because of the COVID-19 crisis. Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget office on Wednesday announced details of the $76.7 million in funding cuts to the state’s public universities and colleges through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, including a reduction of $6.1 million for Kent State.
For the next fiscal year, Kent State will temporarily reduce salaries for employees who make more than $38,000 and who are not represented by a union, according to the measure passed by the board. At the end of fiscal year 2021, university officials will review the salary adjustments to determine if they will continue through fiscal year 2022.
Diacon, who has a base salary of $475,000, will take a cut of 12.5%. The president’s cabinet members, deans and employees with salaries of $200,000 or more will take a cut of 10%. For employees who make between $150,000 to $199,999, their salary will be cut by 7%; between $100,000 to $149,999, 5%; between $50,000 to $99,999, 4%; and between $38,000 to $49,999, 2%.
Staff members whose salaries are being cut will be granted leave days that may be used in lieu of, or in addition to, vacation days to be taken during Fiscal Year 2021. Staff with salaries of $50,000 or more will receive 10 leave days, and those with salaries of $38,000-$49,999 will receive five leave days.
Board members approved changes to Kent State’s union contracts put forth by two bargaining units represented by the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP): one for full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members, and one for full-time non-tenure-track faculty.
The modified agreements defer raises for the upcoming year and extend the agreements by one year. The deferral of raises is expected to save the university about $2.5 million in fiscal year 2021, a university spokesman said.
The board also approved a voluntary buyout program for regular full-time staff and faculty members who will have worked at Kent State for at least three years as of June 30, 2020. Part-time, temporary and contracted employees, employees who have retired and were subsequently rehired, and those in grant-funded positions are not eligible.
Employees who are not represented by AAUP or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) who take the buyout will receive three months of salary plus the lesser of three months of salary or $20,000, continuation of health-care coverage for up to six months, retention of tuition-waiver benefits for four years and payment of leave balances.
Employees represented by AFSCME will receive two weeks of salary plus an additional six weeks of salary, continuation of health-care coverage for up to six months, retention of tuition-waiver benefits for four years and payment of leave balances.
Tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty represented by AAUP will receive three months of salary plus the lesser of three months of salary or $20,000, continuation of health-care coverage for up to 12 months, retention of tuition-waiver benefits for four years and payment of leave balances.
Employees who are eligible for a buyout will hear from the university’s Division of Human Resources on May 11. If they wish to participate, they must choose to do so by June 1, and will no longer by employed on June 30.
The board’s next scheduled meeting is June 3, at which time board members are expected to approve the university’s budget for the next fiscal year.