UM President Gary Forsee told faculty and staff at a town hall meeting in Jesse Auditorium on Friday that the passage of stimulus legislation has affected his outlook on employee furloughs.
"Every day that goes by now, I think it's less likely that we're going to have to use that tool," Forsee said, referring directly to furloughs or unpaid leaves for UM employees.
"I think this campus is in a particularly strong position to not have to implement that," he said.
Forsee called the meeting as a forum for faculty and staff to seek clarification about furloughs and other cost-cutting measures, including hiring and wage freezes, and contributions to employee pension plans. About 200 attended.
The following questions were asked of Forsee at the town hall meeting; to hear his answers, click on the headphones icons to the left or click on the links within the question.
I think we're all glad over $9 million was put back into the university budget (for Extension programs). That doesn't hide the fact that we're still missing $5 million from the university budget. What is your obligation to follow the governor's and the legislature's directives on where particular cuts are taken, and if this $5 million cut is put in place, would you feel obligated to apply that only to Extension?
One of the comments that I've never heard is that one of the things that would make Mizzou a greater university than it is today is to have more administration. One of the comments that I've never heard is that we need more people who make over $100,000 a year who don't even teach a class. What will it take for you to make serious reductions in the budget money going to administration at this university?
Suppose a furlough is instituted and a furloughed employee gets hurt while responding to an emergency situation on campus (like an equipment malfunction only he or she can fix). Would that employee still get help, like workers' compensation, from the university?
There has been discussion about the possibility that, given the deductions from salaries, if there are surpluses in retirement funds, building funds, etc., some of that money would be given back to the employees. On the other hand, I'm hearing you say that the money would simply stay in those funds. Is the option of giving it back to employees on the table?
You've said that furloughs, if instituted, would be instituted fairly. But what does that mean? It seems that fairness in furloughs would be hard to determine, since a given number of furlough days would affect some people much more negatively than it would others.
What assurance do we have that the money being taken out of our salaries won't go to things like operating costs and building funds? And what assurance do we have that this new plan to have us pay 1 or 2 percent of our pay into our retirement plans doesn't put us on a slippery slope to having to pay 2 or 3 percent?