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Radford University memo outlines budget reduction options

Radford University memo outlines budget reduction options

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Radford University Brian Hemphill

Two options for Radford University budget reductions over the upcoming two fiscal years — across-the-board cuts and a more strategic plan — were detailed in a Thursday memo signed by President Brian Hemphill.

The cuts have been deemed necessary due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. The university is preparing to lose a large percentage of state funding over the next two budget years, based on a recent briefing. And student enrollment and retention issues could also be possible.

The across-the-board cuts, if employed, could include salary reductions for all employees; permanent budget reductions for all departments, administrative and academic; mandatory furloughs; and a hiring freeze for the entire university.

The other strategic option could include programs and academic departments being consolidated or eliminated based on productivity and defined criteria to be established, according to the document. Administrative consolidations or eliminations could also be considered.

When asked by The Roanoke Times on Thursday to comment on a similar story about what budget reduction measures were being considered, the university did not provide the document or list the aforementioned possibilities in its response.

The memo, obtained by The Roanoke Times on Friday, was sent out to “a limited group of individuals” Tuesday before being adjusted and ultimately sent to Faculty Senate President Katie Hilden-Clouse on Thursday morning and school deans later that day, according to university spokeswoman Caitlyn Scaggs.

The memo states that if the across-the-board option is chosen, “the reductions will be equitable in nature, representing equal percentages across academic and non-academic functions.” It also states that final percentages will be determined based on the amount of funding the university receives from the state, as well as data from the school’s fall 2020 enrollment and other numbers.

Any consolidation or eliminations under the strategic-based option would likely be permanent, according to Scaggs.

“It is anticipated that strategic reductions would be permanent as the base funding for the University is likely to be adjusted on a permanent basis,” she wrote in an email.

Scaggs said the criteria for the strategic option have yet to be determined and would not be until a decision is made on which approach to take by various stakeholders such as the Faculty Senate Executive Council, Administrative and Professional Faculty Executive Committee, Staff Senate Executive Committee and the Leadership Council.

The letter notes that teaching and research faculty impacted by the strategic option would remain in their current position, with their contracts being honored through the end of the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2021.

Hemphill will take a salary reduction regardless of which option is chosen, according to Scaggs.

“Regardless of what approach (across-the-board or strategic) is selected by the shared governance groups, President Hemphill and the senior leadership team will take salary reductions. The percentage and timing of those salary reductions are yet to be determined,” she wrote.

The outlined options come after the school’s board of visitors passed a resolution June 12 granting Hemphill unilateral budgeting cutting powers.

The decision has caused pushback from the Faculty Senate of Virginia — as well as some of the school’s own faculty.

The state organization wrote a letter addressed to Radford Board of Visitors Rector Robert Archer condemning the resolution, stating it’s “a fundamental violation of the principles of academic freedom protected by tenure and shared governance,” among other complaints.

An email circulating among faculty is also asking those upset with the decision to sign a petition asking the Faculty Senate Executive Council to bring a motion to the full Faculty Senate “censuring the Board of Visitors’ action in this instance and calling upon them to rescind this resolution.”

The Thursday memo states that “appeal and grievance rights related to faculty promotion and tenure and any other rights provided within the Teaching and research Faculty Handbook remain in place and unchanged for colleges, departments, schools, and programs not included” in the strategic option scenario.

No programs or areas have been considered for consolidation or elimination yet, according to Scaggs.

The shared governance groups must first select an approach and then criteria will be developed, she said.

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