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UMKC Considers Layoffs, Furloughs And Hiring Freezes As It Tries To Weather COVID-19 Fallout

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UMKC leaders are asking all departments and administrative units on campus to cut between 12 and 17.5% in order to deal with the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor has asked departments to slash budgets between 12.5 and 17.5%.

Leaders at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have asked all academic departments and administrative units to cut their budgets by between 12.5% and 17.5% as the school tries to weather the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email message to faculty and staff sent Monday, UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said the budget cuts could lead to layoffs, furloughs, reductions in adjunct instructors and non-tenure-track faculty, increased faculty teaching loads, frozen stipend offers for graduate students and a "significant reduction" in non-compensation expenses.

"I don’t have to tell you that this process will be challenging. Every academic and administrative unit at UMKC will be impacted by this process," Agrawal wrote in the message.

Agrawal also said later this week he will launch a campus task force to “proactively re-envision UMKC as a dynamic and financially stable university in a post-COVID-19 world.”

"We do not yet have precise information on enrollment impacts or federal and state government support, so many FY21 variables are uncertain," Agrawal's message said. "Nonetheless, we anticipate that revenues will be significantly reduced."

The directive for UMKC departments to slash their budgets follows the University of Missouri System’s warning last week that the economic impact of COVID-19 could cost the four-campus system up to $180 million.

In a note to university system employees co-signed by the other three campus chancellors, including Agrawal, UM System President and Interim Mizzou Chancellor Mun Choi said financial cuts will be determined on an ongoing basis over the coming weeks and months.

“We must plan for severe financial challenges for the next 60-90 days, with forward-looking realism about potential longer term impacts,” Choi wrote.

Choi added that “contingency plans” would be made for cuts of up to 15%, which could look like “layoffs, unpaid leaves, restructuring and strict cost containment measures.”

UMKC leaders said then that they were working closely with Choi to determine how to best meet that target.

“Our overriding priority in making these decisions is to preserve the quality of teaching and vital research at UMKC so we can continue to make valuable contributions to fighting the pandemic and rebuilding our economy in its wake,” UMKC spokesman John Martellaro wrote in an email to KCUR.

KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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