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April 23, 2020

Furloughs, pay cuts and more: UNH scrambles to balance budget

Photo | Contributed

The University of New Haven this week outlined for investors all the steps it is taking to save money during the coronavirus pandemic — including converting to online learning, cancelling events, and instituting furloughs and pay reductions.

The university described all of its cost saving measures in a voluntary investor disclosure update dated April 20 and submitted by George Synodi, UNH’s vice president for finance and administration. 

Before the virus struck, the university anticipated it would have a $3.5 million surplus for fiscal year 2019-20. Then the virus hit. With students now learning online, the university had to credit them for expenses such as unused room and board. 

After savings from cuts and an anticipated $2.3 million in ''Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES) funding, the university projects it will be “at or near break even,” for the fiscal year ending June 30.

While the university is eligible for some $4.6 million in CARES Act funding, half of this must be distributed directly to students, according to the disclosure.

After the university converted to online learning for the remainder of the spring term, it needed to provide students with credit toward room and board, for a total of $9.6 million, which students can use toward current and future university charges. UNH, based at 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, plans to use the remaining $2.3 million CARES money to partially offset this spring room and board credit. 

UNH temporarily furloughed 173 employees through July 31, for a savings of $1.5 million. An additional 75 employees’ hours of employment are being reduced. According to the university, the impacted employees are eligible for unemployment compensation to help cover any salary difference.

The university also implemented progressive pay reductions based on salary, ranging from between three and nine percent, for an anticipated cost savings of $675,000. It also has suspended retirement contributions for a savings of $1.5 million, according to the disclosure.

By cancelling all events, travel, food service and other expenditures, the university realized a savings of $1.5 million.

Additionally, UNH has postponed $6 million in capital improvements to the summer of 2021 or later. The new $45 million Bergami Center for Science, Technology & Innovation project is nearly finished, and won’t be impacted. It should be ready to open for the fall 2020 semester.

As of April 1, the university reported its cash position at $47 million, plus quasi-endowment and unrestricted investments of $44 million. 

If the pandemic persists into the fall, the university indicated it is prepared to implement similar cost saving measures to achieve a positive result for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

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