Regents modify faculty contracts

In another move to cut university budgets across the state, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia decided on May 12 to approve the modification of all employee contracts.

The altered contracts give university presidents the authority to furlough any employees, including faculty members. In this context, furloughing means asking an employee to take one or more days off without pay.

“This gives our presidents the flexibility to make furlough decisions for their respective institutions, if the state revenue situation continues to worsen,” said Erroll Davis, Chancellor of the USG.

Originally, about one-fourth of the University System’s 40,000 employees were protected by their contracts from being furloughed, but these employees accounted for more than one-half of all personnel costs. After this contract modification, all employees, regardless of tenure or position, can be furloughed in accordance with statewide guidelines should the need arise.

“What the Board of Regents wanted to do was provide each university president with all of the tools available to manage the current fiscal crisis, and furloughs are one of those tools,” said Gary Schuster, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

University System officials stated that no contract employees will be furloughed within the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. According to Schuster, President Peterson also has no current plans to furlough Tech employees, although that is one of the expenditure-reducing measures in the administration’s discussion of next fiscal year’s budget.

“There are many ways in which employees can be furloughed – maybe they’ll be asked to take one day a month off or during certain holiday periods in which there is little activity on campus,” he said. “Of course this measure will be to some extent selective; for example, you don’t want to announce that all of your law enforcement personnel are taking a certain day off,” Schuster said. Even though administration officials have reassured students that this move on the part of the USG will in no way affect the quality of their education, some remain skeptical of the effects.

“It’s obvious that in such a recession, everyone must help to reduce some of the pressure that the University System is under,” said Robin Osborne, a third-year Biology major. “However, I think that this will shake faculty confidence in the security of their jobs, which could negatively affect students.”

“Revenue collections continue to be below projections, but the state must balance its budget at the end of the year. Georgia Tech will act very cautiously based on the information that is available to us,” Schuster said.