Saturday, July 20, 2024

Furloughs, pay reduction: W&M Board approves personnel contingency options

The Sir Christopher Wren Building sits at the head of the W&M campus, just before you cross into Colonial Wililamsburg. (WYDaily/Courtesy of William & Mary)
The Sir Christopher Wren Building sits at the head of the W&M campus, just before you cross into Colonial Wililamsburg. (WYDaily/Courtesy of William & Mary)

The W&M Board of Visitors Tuesday approved the use of temporary personnel actions, including furloughs and pay reductions, if needed for the upcoming fiscal year.

During the Board meeting, university leadership emphasized that personnel actions are not imminent and that thanks to a university-wide effort to reduce spending, William & Mary is in sound financial shape. However, uncertainty remains given the COVID-19 pandemic, state budget decisions and the economy.

“The economic outlook remains sobering and very uncertain,” President Katherine A. Rowe said. “Though we are in a sound financial position now, we have a responsibility to prepare prudently. So we bring parts of a contingency plan and recommend Board action to make additional tools available to us – only to be used if necessary – given the possibilities of the coming year.”

Tuesday’s action delegates authority to the administration should across-the-board personnel actions such furloughs or pay reductions become necessary. If so, decisions will be guided by four principles:

  • William & Mary’s core learning mission will be preserved.
  • Senior university leaders will be the first impacted and in the largest amount.
  • In university-wide actions, we will seek to protect our lowest-paid employees (e.g., those making less than $50,000 annually) to the extent possible.
  • The university will look first to temporary actions, not permanent ones.

In response to the pandemic, the administration has already implemented several immediate measures to limit near-term spending. In the spring, the university instituted a hiring freeze, only filling positions that are deemed “mission critical.” Likewise, employees were asked to curtail purchases for the remainder of FY 20 not considered “mission critical,” with the exception of externally funded research expenses. Departments and units are currently undergoing a “zero-based” budgeting exercise for FY 21, which involves limiting expenses not considered critical.

“The Board and I greatly appreciate the leadership of the university for both the ongoing forward-thinking approach to prepare for the financial impact of the pandemic and putting broader contingencies in place in a thoughtful way,” said Rector John Littel P’22. “There are many uncertainties and we must address them in a deliberate, transparent and collaborative way. I have full confidence that is the case.”

If broader personnel actions become necessary, Rowe emphasized the delegation of authority resolution pertains to temporary actions.

“The board committed under the William & Mary Promise to achieve more competitive salaries for faculty and staff,” she said. “We have made progress but we are not there yet. This is why it is important that we focus first on temporary actions, in order to allow us the chance – if financial conditions allow – to recover quickly.”


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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