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UO reducing staff by the hundreds amid pandemic

Affected employees will be able to apply for unemployment benefits and continue to receive health care through the university.

Posted: Apr 13, 2020 12:56 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2020 3:35 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – A total of 282 employees are affected by staff reductions at the University of Oregon due to financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.

President Michael Schill announced the changes on Monday, saying that affected employees are being notified. Employees will be able to decide whether or not they continue their employment with the university.

“We are all facing uncertainty and unprecedented challenges as we work collectively to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Schill said in a statement.

The layoffs involve staff in housing and dining, the Erb Memorial Union, athletics, P.E. and Rec, and the access shuttle program, the statement says.

Schill said the university has developed a UO Extended Benefits Program to help affected employees through these uncertain times. It will be available to staff who continue their employment.

Under the plan, they will receive a minimum 30-day paid notice and will then be enrolled in the program through August 31. During this time, they will be on leave-without-pay status and will be able to apply for unemployment benefits. The university will also continue to pay into each employee’s health insurance premiums.

“For a good number of employees it is likely that the combination of expanded unemployment insurance benefits and our health insurance will keep them financially whole during the period,” Schill said.

A hiring freeze is also in place, and all senior leadership have taken a minimum six-month 10% pay reduction, Schill said. The president has taken a 12% reduction on his $720,000 salary.

“Unfortunately, these actions are not nearly sufficient to deal with our current reality,” he wrote.

With classes moving online, the university has seen a sharp reduction in the number of students on campus. Schill said they typically house more than 4,500 students, and now there are fewer than 225.

The university also said they are facing a loss of $25 million in revenue for spring term. About $3.4 million of that is student fees that were refunded due to facility closures.

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