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Longwood announces pay cuts

Longwood University officials announced Tuesday, May 12, the university will be asking faculty and staff to take pay cuts over the coming year in an attempt to avoid layoffs due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a release distributed by the university’s Office of Public Relations, officials noted Longwood employees will see temporary pay reductions averaging 6.5%, with the percentage reductions for most employees ranging from 5.7% to 7%.

The move is an attempt to prevent the extensive staff reductions that have taken place at other universities during the outbreak.

The release noted the pay cuts are tiered to have the least impact on those with the lowest salaries. Additionally, a small number of senior university leaders will take salary reductions of 15%. University vice presidents will take reductions of 20%. Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV will take a pay cut of 25%.

Longwood University employs a total of 765 people.

Staff members will be awarded unpaid time off in return for decreased paid hours.

The university will continue to contribute its full share of retirement and health benefits based on the employee’s full, unreduced salaries.

“American higher education is facing by far the greatest crisis anyone alive today has ever witnessed,” Reveley said. “While we won’t have a clear picture until the fall, we know that in the coming academic year there will be intense pressure on both state funding and enrollment. National groups project college enrollment declines of even as much as 15% to 20%.

“At Longwood, following a record year for applications, we are hopeful the decline will not prove that sharp here, and we are carefully planning for the fall semester. Students are eager to return to campus and we are looking forward to welcoming them back. But the impact on students and families has been extraordinary, and we cannot pass the burden on to them.”

The release notes that a campus task force has been established to prepare the university to hopefully open in the fall. The team is working to develop public health-related steps to encourage social distance and reduce the chances of transmission to vulnerable populations, such as altering and reassigning classroom space, testing protocols and altered practices surrounding public events.

Longwood also, according to the release, will be taking additional steps to find savings, including limiting travel and hiring for new positions over the coming year.

Officials stated a small number of essential police and public safety officials will not be included in the payroll reduction.

Longwood Assistant Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams said Tuesday the university has different “classes” of employees under the state system. For classified staff, the reduced hours start now, in May, and run through December, then return to normal. For administrative staff, reductions begin now and will be prorated over the coming year. For faculty, the temporary reductions will begin in September and run over the course of the coming year.

“We anticipate all salaries resetting to current, unreduced levels going into the 2021-22 academic year,” McWilliams said.

“Over the coming year, even on top of these measures, Longwood will have to take significant steps to adjust to the economic reality everyone in higher education is facing,” Reveley said. “However, considering our spirit of camaraderie and the vital importance of the university in our local economy, I believe we are obliged to start with these steps. Painful but endurable, they keep as many people as we possibly can employed.”