Nearly 400 positions at the University of Georgia would be eliminated or held vacant under its fiscal year 2021 budget proposal. This reduction is part of the University System of Georgia’s overall plan to cut its budget by 14% for the next fiscal year due to revenue loss caused by the coronavirus.
UGA’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget is $362 million, down $59 million from fiscal year 2020. The report said an estimated 394 positions would be eliminated or held vacant, which means if the university were looking to hire someone for the 2021 school year, the position would need to remain unfilled.
The 51-page report outlined 568 action items taken to reduce UGA’s budget across multiple colleges and programs within the university. Operating expenses in every department would be reduced, while funds for traveling would be reduced or eliminated across colleges. Some faculty and staff positions would either be eliminated or receive decreased pay. UGA would also hire less student workers.
The report said the Graduate School’s highest priority is to minimize the impact on graduate assistantships in order to increase graduate student enrollment. The report said financial commitments to new graduate students will not be reduced.
The report included some consequences of the proposed actions. The elimination of filled positions in UGA’s Central Business Office “would lead to a severe disruption in service including delays in hiring, meeting board requests, reporting and accounting, and delay in student account processing,” the report said. Eliminating two positions in Academic Advising Services “will increase the workload on all advisors and require limiting services to students,” and cause wait times to increase.
During a May 7 Board of Regents meeting, USG announced furloughs and unpaid time off would be a component of the budget reductions. USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said universities would take a tiered approach to unpaid time off — workers who make the most money would take the most time off.
Wrigley and university system presidents would take the maximum of 26 unpaid days off during fiscal year 2021, which equates to about a 10% pay reduction, Wrigley said during the meeting.
The highest base salaries would take a 6.2% pay cut by taking 16 furlough days, according to a May 7 USG news release. Workers in the lowest base salary range won’t take any unpaid time off, and most employees would take four or eight furlough days.
The budget reduction plan has to be approved by the Georgia Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp before it is implemented. The 2020 state legislative session was suspended indefinitely in March due to the coronavirus, and the legislature will announce when it reconvenes. Fiscal year 2021 begins July 1 of this year.