Washington College President Kurt Landgraf announced today another series of measures aimed at allowing the College’s undergraduates to successfully complete their studies online by May 2020 while simultaneously attempting to maintain and preserve the overall fiscal health of the 237-year-old college.
In a letter to faculty and staff earlier today, President Landgraf outlined a short-term plan that includes:
- all staff using a portion of accrued vacation and leave between now and June 30 to offset budget set-asides for those costs;
- temporary staff furloughs; and
- cuts in salary for some positions, including voluntary pay reductions for faculty and staff.
- Healthcare benefits for furloughed employees will remain in effect throughout the furlough period, which we anticipate will end by August 15.
In March, in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Washington College implemented an emergency response plan that initially closed the Chestertown campus to students, employees, and the public. In addition, the plan reallocated budgets to address the immediate needs created for students, faculty, and staff. Today’s actions are an incremental expansion of the March 2020 emergency response plan that will help offset lost revenues.
In addition to the cost savings generated by these measures, Landgraf acknowledged the College’s receipt of a $1.1 million aid package from the Higher Education Relief Fund. While this federal grant provides much-welcomed assistance for the institution and for students, Landgraf and the Board of Visitors and Governors are exploring additional measures to lessen the financial impact of this crisis.
“We are doing everything we can to treat our furloughed employees fairly, and I know that health insurance is a major concern,” notes Landgraf. “In addition to continuing health insurance coverage and their unemployment benefits, which cover about half of an employee’s weekly wages, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide an additional $600 per week to those who are collecting unemployment benefits due to the pandemic, through July 31. I hope that we will be well on the other side of this crisis by then.”
Meanwhile, faculty and students are getting through their coursework online and some end-of-year events—including the Senior Reading, the Sophie Kerr Prize Announcement, and the Senior Awards ceremony—will move to a digital format. Graduating seniors and their families are invited to return to campus this fall for Commencement ceremonies, which have been rescheduled for October 17.