Radford faces budget cuts, tough decisions
Due to the pandemic, Radford University is faced with an unprecedented strain on its budget, which is likely to cause faculty and staff layoffs.
Because of state budget cuts, the university is faced with an $8.1 million decrease in funding over the next two fiscal years.
And at the same time, Radford administrators predict the school will face $7 million in additional expenses related to COVID-19, which, according to Caitlyn Scaggs, associate vice president for university relations, includes the costs of personal protective equipment for students, faculty and staff, as well as purchasing and installing Plexiglas protective barriers.
Radford President Brian Hemphill is expected to deliver cost-cutting recommendations to the school’s board of visitors during a September meeting.
The board voted in June to grant Hemphill broad authority to plan for sweeping budget cuts, likely to include faculty and staff eliminations, in response to the crisis. More controversially, the board voted to allow Hemphill to make financial cuts without including faculty in the decision-making process.
Critics quickly stepped up to voice their grievances. The presidents of the Virginia Conference of the American Association of University Professors and the Faculty Senate of Virginia emailed a letter to Rector Robert Archer on June 15 condemning the resolution they call a “fundamental violation of the principles of academic freedom protected by tenure and shared governance.”
Hemphill is considering two possible strategies for budget cuts, according to a memo he circulated to campus offices dated June 18. Across-the-board reductions would include salary reductions for all employees, while strategic reductions could include eliminating academic departments. Criteria for making strategic reductions would be developed in partnership with the Faculty Senate Executive Council, Administrative and Professional Faculty Executive Committee, the Staff Senate Executive Committee and the Leadership Council, according to the memo.
No matter which strategy is chosen, Hemphill, who makes $622,460 annually, will take a salary cut, as will other members of the senior leadership team, according to Scaggs.
Meanwhile, Radford has committed not to raise tuition for the 2020-2021 year. For in-state undergraduates, tuition remains at $7,922 and out-of-state undergraduates pay $19,557.
“During a time in which many of our new and returning students and their families are experiencing financial challenges due to the global health pandemic and related economic downturn, Radford University is fully maintaining its steadfast commitment to the accessibility and affordability of higher education,” Hemphill said in a statement.