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University of Rochester announces some financial belt-tightening due to impacts of the pandemic

Rochester’s largest employer is announcing steps that it will take to deal with financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Rochester officials posted a note to the campus community on Wednesday talking about things like short-term furloughs, and a hiring freeze.

The letter comes from officials including UR President Sarah Mangelsdorf.  It says among the economic challenges the university is facing are changes relating to online learning. UR refunded room and board fees for undergraduates who left campus in March, but continues to provide housing, food and support for students who remain.

Also, the university has seen what it calls “significant lost revenue from suspending non-essential medical procedures” to build capacity in URMC hospitals for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients.

Officials say while some members of the campus community may wonder why UR cannot use funds from endowments to make up for the shortfall, the majority of that money is earmarked for specific purposes such as professorships and scholarships.

Among the steps UR is taking:

-A freeze on hiring for all open positions.

-No merit increases for faculty or staff for fiscal 2021.

-The university president’s senior leadership group and cabinet along with a group of senior leaders at the medical center and some other senior staff will take salary reductions of up to 18 percent.

-Some employees will be asked to take short-term furloughs in the coming months. Officials say that most if not all furloughed employees will be able to recoup their lost wages through the current state and federal unemployment benefits program. And employees who are on university benefit plans will continue to get healthcare benefits even when they are furloughed.

-The university will hold put a hold on any new capital spending for the next 90 days.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.