WSU campus | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian
346 Wright State University (WSU) staff took reductions in pay due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to President Sue Edwards. WSU asked university staff members to participate in the pay reductions for units that had either a reduced workload or no work available due to coronavirus.
University staff who agreed to take a reduction in pay will receive a change to a new full-time equivalency (FTE) percentage. Staff are grouped into four categories:
- One: FTE of 90% to 75%
- Two: FTE of 74% to 50%
- Three: FTE of less than 50%
- Four: Completely Unpaid Leave
Solution vs. Problem
Many staff took a reduction without question, as they want to be a part of the solution versus a part of the problem.
“I truly hope that I can be a part of the solution. It makes me feel like I am doing my part, in a way, to sustain Wright State. I have been with WSU for more than five years, and they have been tough years,” said Nicole Craw, assistant director of alumni marketing and communications. “But, I am here for the long haul and want to see this university not only survive, but thrive. Difficult decisions can always be made easier when you do your part to help.”
Others reiterate that they want to do everything in their power to make sure the university is fiscally fit and they urge others to join.
“Staff members do not really have a choice on whether to participate in FTE reductions given WSU’s fiscal challenges. If we hope to continue educating tomorrow’s professionals, we all must do our best to ensure WSU is fiscally fit,” said Tonya Davis, administrative assistant for the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Many staff members learned about the reductions in a variety of different ways, some from their supervisors, some from President Edwards’ WebEx chats and some from university communications. Though the request was initially unclear, one thing was clear: no pressure and give as much as you’re comfortable with.
Many also expressed pride and appreciation to President Edwards and her administration.
“[Edwards] has done just a fabulous job and has really instilled a lot of confidence in people in a time of uncertainty. And she has said this multiple times: ‘We are all in this together.’ So, I feel that’s one of my motivators for taking a reduction,” said Colleen Lampton-Brill, director of major gifts for the College of Liberal Arts.
When asked about the future, Edwards reiterated that all areas of the university must work together.
“We have to work together. We all have a common goal, and that is the success of this institution. I am incredibly proud of our staff, faculty and students. We have to band together; as one,” said Edwards. “People who work and band together to solve the problem are going to be successful moving forward. And I want us to be the number one in the state.”
Staff FTE reductions are estimated to save the university roughly $250,000 for June and another $250,000 for July for a total of nearly $500,000.
Edwards said that the university will know by June 15 if additional reduction efforts are needed.
Vacation, sick leave and retirement contributions will be reduced in accordance with their selected FTE.
Healthcare and similar benefits will remain at their current rate as long as the employee is considered full time (over 75% FTE).
Employees who took a reduction in hours between 10 and 50 percent may be eligible for compensation through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) through the SharedWork Ohio program.
SharedWork Ohio is a layoff avoidance program that provides employees compensation for lost wages. The program is designed to help employers retain employees during limited business activity.
Employees may also be eligible to receive additional unemployment compensation through the federal CARES act. This is not prorated and will provide compensation until July 25. This program is automatically applied for when approved for state unemployment compensation.
Salaried staff members who participate in the SharedWork Ohio agreement will also be temporarily converted to hourly employees. This is due to claim payment processing and so that staff do not work more than their reduced hours without pay.