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Board of Trustees addresses COVID-19 impacts at April 28 meeting

Board approves furlough policy, provides president with emergency authority

At the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees' April 28 meeting — the first regular meeting to be hosted remotely — Board Chair Ron Brown and President Neville Pinto praised the response of the entire UC community to the COVID-19 pandemic and thanked UC students, faculty and staff for their commitment, patience and hard work.

“Converting more than 8,000 courses to remote education in approximately 10 days took a heroic effort by our faculty and staff,” President Pinto said.  “While our faculty reworked their courses, our staff ensured that our institution's digital backbone and our campus were ready for extended remote operation.”

COVID-19 impacts to budget

At the Board meeting, President Pinto added, “The University of Cincinnati is responding to the health threat of the global pandemic and continuing to monitor it closely. I do want to emphasize that we are simultaneously monitoring the economic downturn that has been precipitated by the pandemic and are continually assessing its impact on our financial health. We are carefully evaluating our options to weather the financial challenges, with the goal of ensuring that UC emerges strong in its ability to fulfill our mission post COVID-19.”

The president has already enacted a number of decisive actions in order to sustain the university’s mission and safeguard UC’s academic core on behalf of our students and their families. These include a previously announced hiring freeze, salary freeze and certain pay cuts.

Next steps for UC

Additional alternatives must be considered, even though many decisions have yet to be made as the current situation evolves.

As such, at the meeting, the Board also approved a new Board rule establishing a furlough policy as one more means that could allow the university to navigate ongoing challenges and sustain its core academic mission.

According to Robert F. Ambach, senior vice president for Administration and Finance, “The ultimate goal will be to develop strategies that can position us for sustaining our mission and emerging strong even though we cannot predict how long the present crisis will last nor all its effects. We are striving to protect employees’ jobs as much as possible. Even universities like our own that have enjoyed enrollment growth and financial strength and stability are not immune to the pandemic’s consequences.”

While there are no mandatory furloughs currently in place at the university, the new policy would allow for a furlough plan related to a budget deficit on either a university or unit level.

The new policy can currently be found on UC's policies page and will be posted in the future with other Board rules related to compensation and attendance: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3361%3A30  

Special resolution on presidential authority

In a resolution on presidential authority to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board also authorized the president, in consultation with appropriate healthcare experts, government officials, and/or university officials, to oversee and direct all steps necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the university community and to do all things necessary for the proper maintenance and successful and continuous operation of the university.