COLONIE —Siena College is furloughing 75 employees effective May 1 to help close a budgetary gap caused when it closed the campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement, those who will be furloughed are in jobs that could not be done while students are off campus.
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The college will continue paying health insurance for the employees and does intend to reinstate the workers when the crisis passes. The college will, though, suspend its 10 percent contribution to all employee retirement plans through at least the end of the year to save about $2.4 million.
The shortfall was created, in large part, because it had to reimburse some $8.7 million in room and board to students who were required to leave campus. Also, it projects difficulties in attracting new students because of the financial hardship families will face because of economic fallout from the pandemic.
Further compounding the college’s financial troubles is a projected 10 percent decline in the valuation of its endowment, which contributes nearly 7 percent of the college’s operational spending, a projected decline in fundraising levels and added costs associated with moving courses online.
It has pushed back its deposit deadline for incoming first-year students by one month to June 1, to provide high school seniors extra time to make their college decision.
“The unimaginable circumstances provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic have critically strained the college’s financial position,” said Margaret E. Madden, interim president. “We will survive this unprecedented storm, but realistically, decisive cost-saving measures must be taken now to ensure the college’s financial viability in the future.”
The college has also reduced its capital budget allocated by $3 million and initiated a freeze on non-faculty hiring and non-essential procurements.
Incoming president Chris Gibson has voluntarily taken a 25 percent salary cut when he begins his job on July 1 through at least the end of the year. Also, Siena’s Franciscan friars will forego their salaries through the end of the calendar year.
Students have been taking courses online since March 23 and the commencement ceremonies have been postponed until Aug. 15.
Earlier this month, the college decided to teach all summer sessions remotely or online and cancelled all summer academic, sports camps and summer travel programs.
Colleges across the Capital District, including Union College and RPI, and across the country have furloughed workers.