March 2, 2010
To University of Idaho Students,
I appreciate that you have chosen to study at the University of Idaho, the state’s great land-grant institution. We have a distinctive statewide mission of teaching, research and outreach that is woven into the very fabric of Idaho itself and which places us among the most prominent public universities in the nation. Our growing legacy will serve you well as you pursue your career and personal goals throughout your life.
During these challenging economic times, thanks in large part to outstanding fiscal management efforts by faculty and staff, we’ve continued fulfilling our mission with excellence. But now, as the state legislature moves forward with plans for additional reductions this year and with the potential for reductions next year, we’ve had to ask a fundamental question: what do we need to do to ensure that the high-quality education and programs that you and our state rely upon will continue to thrive and grow in value? My leadership team – along with faculty, staff and student leadership – has considered this question carefully and has determined that – in addition to the other cost-saving and revenue-enhancing programs underway -- employee furloughs are necessary.
I write today to assure you that, in designing the furlough plan, our top priority has been to ensure that the impact on your educational experience is minimized. Classes will not be cancelled and services will not be discontinued unless other mitigating or extreme circumstances require it.
Furloughs will, however, require a financial sacrifice from almost every University employee. And they will require flexibility and careful planning to ensure our University operations and academic schedules continue without interruption. We are asking all employees to work with their supervisors to complete their furlough requirements by June 25, 2010. In order to implement furloughs equitably and with the least amount of disruption, we have established a tiered system of hours required, based on salaries. Details of the furlough plan – including information for teaching assistants and student employees, whose participation is not required – are available online: www.uidaho.edu/furlough
We are not alone in making the decision to furlough. Across the nation, both public and private universities are making similar choices in the face of economic conditions: Clemson University and Utah State University are enacting mandatory 5-day furlough programs for faculty and staff; Arizona State University employees will shoulder 10 to 12 days of furloughs; in Maryland, the entire university system is taking a 5-day furlough. All of California’s public universities are also requiring multi-day furloughs. By implementing furloughs now as a cost-saving measure, we expect to preserve and continue to grow the excellence of our institution while bridging to a time of more stability as the economy begins its recovery, state revenues improve, and some of our strategies for new revenue sources take hold. I have additional comments about the furlough program in an online video at www.uidaho.edu/president/news/videos/furloughvideo
Our faculty and staff are the University’s greatest asset and the key to the quality of your education. Please work with them as they ensure that the degree you are pursuing continues to grow in value and that the University of Idaho emerges from this period stronger over the long-term.
We have a special community at the University of Idaho. Thank you for being a part of it.