The UM Board of Curators on Friday gave President Gary Forsee the authority to impose emergency furloughs.
The board also authorized a proposal to require benefit-eligible employees to pay into their retirement plans.
Additionally, the board approved a transition assistance program for employees who lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts.
The board voted unanimously to give Forsee authority to implement furloughs if he deemed them necessary. The authority ends June 30, and Forsee must consult the board before taking any action.
The president said only a reduction in state appropriations during the current fiscal year would prompt such a move. He said it would not be imposed unilaterally.
“It wouldn’t be something that would necessarily be applied at the system level,” Forsee said.
In a news conference after the meeting, he was questioned about concerns that faculty were not given enough warning about the changes.
“In a perfect world, all 26,950 of our associates would have a personal conversation with me, and that’s not going to take place,” Forsee said. “That’s not practical, and we rely and I trust the governance processes to work. “
He said he met with faculty leaders on the campuses earlier this week to discuss his proposals.
Forsee said the measures are intended to manage anticipated consequences of the economic downturn.
“Some 18 months ago, we certainly saw the worst recession in 80 years starting to unfold in our country. At the same time, we know that all of those impacts are just now starting to work their way toward us.”
“The question is, how will times change with a new administration, and will that administration move in different directions, and how will we respond and match up to that as we go forward? “
Forsee said it was a time for university leaders to provide ongoing dialogue with their constituents.
“Uncertainty affects everyone," he said. "The ability to hear directly from individuals who most impact your role, in my experience, is the best measure to assure that morale in context can stay strong during these periods of time."