BOWLING GREEN - More than 500 employees at Bowling Green State University will be required to take at least three unpaid furlough days this school year.
The furloughs, which range from three to seven days depending on the employee's salary, are expected to save the university $800,000 in salary and retirement contributions.
"We have our budget balanced, but we think the overall situation remains pretty fragile in terms of the state economy, and this will provide some additional support for us," BGSU President Carol Cartwright said.
The affected employees are full-time, 12-month staff members who make at least $50,000.
University employees were notified about the furloughs in a letter from Ms. Cartwright sent yesterday afternoon, although the possibility of furloughs has been discussed for months.
Employees who are paid $50,000 to $74,999 will take three furlough days. Five furlough days will be required for those who are paid $75,000 to $99,999, and employees who are paid $100,000 or more must take seven furlough days.
Most faculty will not be affected because they are on nine-month contracts rather than the 12-month contract staff subjected to the furloughs, BGSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said.
About 20 library faculty and about 75 faculty administrators are affected by the furloughs, he said.
The majority are administrative staff, which include positions such as academic advisers and financial aid counselors.
Sara Zulch-Smith, chairman of the BGSU Administrative Staff Council, said about 375 of her constituents, more than half of the 660 administrative staff employees, will be required to take furlough days.
"Nobody is thrilled to have three, five, or seven days unpaid, but when you look at the bigger picture, if it saves a colleague's job or my job, it's a solution we can live with," she said.
Ms. Zulch-Smith discussed with the administration and BGSU Board of Trustees her concerns that administrative staff were adversely affected with about 70 percent of the total furloughs being from that classification.
While staff await details of implementation, Ms. Zulch-Smith said she was happy to see that there is a personal choice option that allows employees to work with their supervisors to set the furlough days.
The university does ask that an employee not take more than three furlough days in a week, Mr. Kielmeyer said.
The furloughs must be taken between Sept. 1 and June 30, 2010.
Ms. Cartwright said the $800,000 savings from the furloughs will be invested in enrollment initiatives to align dollars with priorities.
The money would go toward initiatives such as increasing contact with prospective students and marketing the university.
Ms. Cartwright said it was a difficult decision to go ahead with the furloughs, but it was a suggestion made by several employees through a university Web site devoted to cost-cutting suggestions.
"They believed many people would be interested in helping to reduce expenses in some way," she said.
Ms. Cartwright said she will take her seven furlough days as unpaid holidays to minimize the impact on operations.
That means that for a holiday such as Thanksgiving where employees are paid but the university is closed, she will be on furlough and not get paid.
She said it's important not just for her but members of the cabinet to do that as a way to stay engaged every day and not affect operations.
The university's human resources office will release more information about the furloughs on Monday, which will be followed by three open forums to address employees' questions and concerns.
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