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TU Announces Furloughs, Citing Mounting Financial Losses During COVID-19 Pandemic

Matt Trotter

Nearly all University of Tulsa employees will be furloughed at least two weeks because of financial losses tied to COVID-19

Interim President Janet Levit announced the furloughs in an email to workers Thursday afternoon. Housing and dining refunds to students since instruction moved online in March, lost athletics revenue, and the costs of setting up most employees to work remotely have cost TU $4.6 million. Administrators expect to lose at least $5.5 million more in revenue into the fall because of declining enrollment and canceled summer events.

"Nationally and globally, COVID-19 has emerged as a crisis of historic proportions with significant and profound impacts to our way of life, to our health and to our sense of wellbeing. While it varies by state, progress is being made to contain the disease, but at a huge cost to our economy and at a huge cost to The University of Tulsa," Levit said in the email.

Those losses are on top of already strained finances. Administrators have been trying to cut $14 million to $20 million in expenses over the next three years.

Most staff will start two-week furloughs by the end of June. Employees in the Gilcrease Museum, facilities management, housing, McFarlin Library, Collins Fitness Center and the athletics department, however, will be placed on extended furloughs starting Sunday and lasting as late as July 31.

Some employees under contracts, like resident faculty and certain athletics coaches, will not be furloughed but may volunteer for a salary reduction in May, June or both months. Levit said many coaches agreed to voluntarily take two weeks of unpaid leave.

Employees will continue to receive their health insurance during their furloughs and will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits.

Note: KWGS is licensed to TU.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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