After speaking at length with all of you and a number of other people with an interest in the issue, we have decided that faculty furlough days will not occur on instructional days (days for which a faculty member is scheduled to give lectures, lead classes or workshops, have scheduled office hours, or have other scheduled face-to-face responsibilities for students).
The furloughs that have been necessitated by the severe University underfunding by the State are causing significant problems for faculty who have restrictions on research and service as well as increased teaching workloads; employees who have fewer days to do their work and sometimes fewer colleagues to help them; administrators who have reduced staff and budgets to accomplish their complex tasks; on top of lower salaries for everyone. Students too will suffer the effects of the underfunding–larger and fewer classes, and increased fees, as were imposed for this fall instruction period, among other burdens. In such difficult times, I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure that the students continue to receive all of their instruction. Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University’s paramount teaching mission. Research is permitted on furlough days, but for many faculty this extra research will not be remunerated unless they have grants in which there are funds that can be reallocated to pay for increased effort. And since furlough days are not “service days”, they can be used for outside professional activities that may be remunerated.
We understand that the furlough plan will cause hardships for the entire University family. As such, the President and the Regents are committed to do everything possible to ensure that the plan ends after 12 months.
We will continue to work closely with faculty, students, staff and administrators to find the most efficient and thoughtful way to address the problems that will arise this year. You have my pledge that we will make the University as effective and productive as we can under the current budget problems, after which we will help you all plan for better times ahead.
Lawrence H. Pitts
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President