ATLANTA— Morehouse College President David A. Thomas announced Monday that a round of furloughs, pay cuts, and job terminations will affect the entire Morehouse campus.
The college is implementing this cost reduction plan to counteract an anticipated budget deficit for the upcoming school year. While this was triggered in large part due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the cost reductions were first prompted by a budget shortfall in September of 2019.
Dr. Thomas says that cost reductions will impact every single Morehouse employee, including both faculty and staff. Morehouse has estimated that there will be a 25 percent decline in enrollment this fall as a result of COVID-19.
From the top to the bottom
The reduction will roll out in phases, with the first phase seeing 54 part-time and full-time employees being furloughed for two months. Also 13 full-time employees will be terminated effective June 1.
Even Dr. Thomas will be affected, his salary will be reduced by 25 percent. From June 1 to at least December 31, 2021 there will be 194 full-time employees facing pay cuts. Those who earn more than $55,000 per year will see their salary cut anywhere from 10 to 15 percent.
“This is a pivotal moment for all of higher education,” Thomas said. “Those who can adapt to this new normal will thrive, while those who continue to look backward will struggle to survive. Since even before the Great Recession, the business model of most higher education institutions has been under pressure by changing student demographics, rising costs and the many choices technology has provided students on how to learn.”
The new reality
Thomas continued, “While these cuts address the expected budget shortfall caused by structural issues and COVID-19, we have the opportunity to reinvent how we address the market and educate future generations of Morehouse Men.”
“Our immediate focus will be to bring our faculty and staff back together to chart a course through the opportunities presented by this new reality we’re all in. It will require an entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in order to diversify and grow our revenue streams – while upholding our mission and celebrating the traditions and people that make Morehouse unique.”
Non-exempt employees and those whose jobs are funded by federal grants, will not be affected by the pay cuts.
Declining pay and increased workload could also go together in this scenario. The cutbacks will leave job responsibilities that have to be absorbed by the remaining staff members. Other items that Morehouse will trim back on include merit increases, hiring, and non-essential purchasing. Travel will be suspended. The hiring of temporary and contract employees will be reduced significantly as well.
The first phase of the reduction plan will save the College $3.4 million according to Monday’s release. Program consolidation is on the table as well. The next phase of the plan will evaluate academic programs to see where consolidation might work. Morehouse closed its campus and began online instruction in March and continues to operate virtually until further notice.