Campus, Coronavirus, News

University faces $96 million more of budget cuts, prepares for layoffs and furloughs

After already cutting $168 million from its 2021 budget, Boston University must make an additional $96 million in cuts, which will result in layoffs and furloughs for University staff. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University must make an additional $96 million worth of financial cuts — after having already cut $168 from its budget — to cover its total $264 million budget shortfall for the 2021 fiscal year beginning July 1, according to an email to faculty and staff from President Robert Brown, dated Monday.

This means layoffs and furloughs will occur, according to the email. It is predicted that the combined number of layoffs and furloughs will not exceed 250.

Brown said in an interview with The Daily Free Press Thursday that the University plans to rehire all furloughed employees, who will continue to receive employment benefits — such as health care and dental treatment — from BU, despite not receiving pay.

The University may also move furloughed employees to other roles in which they will work to help ensure a healthy and safe campus.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that it’s not clear what these roles will be and whether or not they already exist. 

The jobs, according to BU Today, will help ensure fewer layoffs, as some employees may simply be transferred to other departments until further notice.

In preparation for the 2021 fiscal year, the University has so far frozen salaries for faculty and staff, reduced executive salaries and frozen contributions to retirement programs, amounting to a $168 million decrease in the budget.

Riley wrote that the total $264 million shortfall before cuts was a result of incurred expenses related to and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The shortfall is a combination of increased operational expenses,” Riley wrote, “including the new costs of implementing and conducting testing and, of course, reduced revenue from having fewer students living on campus.”

Brown had announced in an April 17 email to faculty and staff that the Spring semester shortfall was $52 million, which was ultimately covered by contingency reserves in the 2020 fiscal year budget and savings from the hiring freeze.

President Brown had described the deposits coming in from undergraduate and graduate students as strong. 

However, he stated in his recent email that nothing is yet certain.

“There is enormous uncertainty about whether these students can and will attend,” Brown wrote. “This is especially true for our international students for whom obtaining visas is not yet possible.”

In several BU class Facebook groups, students have been voting in polls about their personal decisions on returning to campus in the Fall.

As of Monday, in the official Class of 2023 group, 158 students have responded that they will return to campus, 43 are still deciding and 11 are choosing to not come back. A poll in the official Class of 2022 group had 189 students say they would return, 11 would not return and 2 said they would take a gap semester. A Class of 2021 poll has 67 votes for a return, 6 for no return and 17 for undecided.

Brown’s email stated that when it’s clear what the actual revenues from student deposits are, increased budget reductions may need to be made. The money from students will help close the gap in the budget. 

One Comment

  1. Brian Boughton, SED '11

    The university’s handling of the pandemic from the start has been a major disappointment. One of the last (if not the last) schools in Boston to shut down, a reckless disregard for Faculty, manipulative treatment of Ph.D students, and now layoffs/furloughs. For a University run by a scientist, with its own medical school and school of public health, I’m disappointed with what seems like a continued commitment only to the bottom line.