UWGB furloughs workers; drops varsity tennis; university lost $3 million to COVID impacts

The Brillion News

UPDATED on April 24, 2020 @ 12:50 p.m.

GREEN BAY - Campus leaders of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay announced Friday, April 24, that it will place 227 staff members on furlough from May 2 through May 31.

All administrators with an annual salary above $100,000 are also taking a voluntary furlough.

"It is terribly unfortunate that the COVID19 pandemic has forced our hand," said Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven in a memorandum to UW-Green Bay faculty and staff announcing the decision.

She said the future of the university required the cuts.


"Today, we must announce plans to enact furloughs at UW-Green Bay to protect the future of the institution. This disruption in our lives and our livelihood is one that is greatly disappointing, considering the amazing momentum we had heading into the 2020-21 academic year," Van Gruensven said. "Although our financial health is not in jeopardy at this particular time, the reality is, we lost $3 million in revenue in just the past month and we must navigate risk until we can find some level of normalcy. We must also position ourselves to maintain healthy cash balances in the event we experience additional losses in revenue and other funding sources."

Furloughed staff members received notice from their supervisors beginning Thursday. Furloughs allow members of the campus community to retain their benefits, yet still be eligible for unemployment compensation.

Following Governor Evers' Safer at Home extension, UW-Green Bay announced that it would close campus through May 31, 2020.

For the summer, the University announced the delivery of more than 200 classes online, and cancelled on-campus summer camps, providing a number of new online and remotely delivered camp experiences, instead.

This decision drastically cut the workload for a number of employees.

Tennis program comes to end

In addition to furloughs of some of its staff members, Green Bay Athletics announced it will be suspending its men's and women's tennis teams indefinitely at the conclusion of this 2019-2020 academic year. 

Several long-standing challenges have continued to hinder the opportunity for growth of the program and have contributed to rising costs that are outpacing revenue, the most significant of which is the lack of an on-campus tennis facility and off-campus rental costs. 

Based on past expenditures the suspension of these two programs will result in a savings of approximately $170,000 operationally per year and $160,000 in athletic tuition scholarships awarded per year. 

This decision does not impact Division I status nor membership in the Horizon League. 

International education on hold

Because of travel restrictions, the uncertainty of International Education opportunities, and the immediate drastic decrease in international activity, the University also laid off four positions in the Office of International Education. 

"We need to protect our institution by ensuring we have enough financial reserves to be able to react calmly and strategically to any adverse financial situation we face in the future. Failure to act now, could put our staff and our ability to deliver a quality education to our students in much greater danger in the Fall," said Chancellor Elect Michael Alexander. "This University has a history of overcoming challenges through creativity and toughness. It will be difficult, but we will get through these unprecedented and disruptive times, together."

UW-Green Bay expects to see about $250,000 in cost recovery with the furlough, in addition to the savings from International Education and Athletics. Faculty and other nine-month employees were exempt from furloughs for this fiscal year.

Campus leaders will present a "state of the University" at a virtual meeting with members of the campus community on May 1.  

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