In a virtual meeting Thursday, June 25, the Stetson University Board of Trustees approved temporary reductions to the university budget to protect the university’s financial resources and strength, and support Stetson’s outstanding educational experience from the impact of the economic downturn and uncertainty in student enrollment caused by COVID-19.
The board approved a 15% cut in the 2020-2021 operating budget for Stetson University’s DeLand campus, or approximately $17 million; and a 10% reduction in the budget for the university’s College of Law campus in Gulfport, or nearly $2 million.
“Through May and part of June, the university had a COVID-19 Budget Prioritization Working Group meeting twice a week for nearly six weeks to review the university’s finances,” said Bob Huth, EVP and CFO. “This group included faculty, staff and student leadership, and through careful consideration they provided a blueprint to help us achieve the necessary reductions while protecting the community.”
Temporary Budget Measures
To balance the DeLand campus budget, the Budget Prioritization Working Group recommended several levels of temporary budget actions to reduce the budget by 5%, 10% and 15%. The group’s final recommendations include plans for rolling back budget reductions if the university’s enrollment and finances stabilize or improve during the year. The group’s proposals were submitted to President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, and President-elect Chris Roellke, PhD, for review on June 12, and together, their recommendations to the budget were included in the document submitted to the trustees. After a discussion and recommendation from the board finance and executive committees earlier in June, the board approved a budget that reflects a 15% overall reduction.
“The 2020-2021 budget represents some of the most difficult work yet with relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said President Libby. “I offer my thanks and appreciation to the Budget Prioritization Working Group for its hard work and dedication to a difficult process.”
“The financial landscape in higher education has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and the difficult decisions made by Stetson University are necessary,” said President-elect Roellke. “Despite these challenges, we will always preserve the core of a Stetson education—a rich and vibrant set of experiences both within and outside the classroom. As Stetson’s new president, I am grateful to all of the faculty, staff and administrators who continue to work diligently in preparation for Fall 2020 and beyond.”
Beginning on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the university will implement the following reductions in DeLand:
- A hiring freeze (with limited exceptions to support academic programs and critical positions)
- Restricting Stetson-sponsored domestic travel at least through December 2020, and review of athletics travel for the fall season
- No salary increase for 2020-2021
- Increasing endowment support
- Reducing replacement and renewal (maintenance and upkeep) expenses
- Operating expense reductions
- Limiting overtime, with the exception of Public Safety
- Temporary reductions in retirement plan contributions to 0% (a shared reduction with the College of Law starting Sept. 1, 2020)
- Voluntary furloughs beginning in July
- Salary reductions on a banded rate scale with more weight toward higher-paid personnel:
- President-elect Roellke is immediately volunteering a number of compensation and benefit reductions, including up to a 15% reduction in base salary as of July 1
- Administrator pay reductions account for nearly 35% of overall savings and start on July 1
- Staff and faculty reductions range from 1% to 4.32%. starting Sept. 1
- No reductions will be made for those making $40,000 or less.
For the College of Law, the overall 10% reduction is achieved through:
- Reductions in operating expenses
- No salary increase for 2020-2021
- Temporary reductions in retirement plan contributions to 0% (a shared reduction with Stetson University’s DeLand campus starting Sept. 1, 2020)
- Pay reductions (depending on salary levels)
- Dean’s pay reduction starting July 1
- Only if the overall reduction needed exceeds 10%, then the following will be implemented:
- Staff and faculty reductions starting Sept. 1
- No reductions for those making $40,000 or less.