Pitzer College prevents mandatory staff furloughs with pay cuts, reduced operating budgets

The outside of a building with a mural and cacti
Pitzer College had not implemented mandatory staff furloughs as of Oct. 15, according to college officials. (Zoe Cowan • The Student Life)

Pitzer College had not implemented mandatory staff furloughs as of Oct. 15, Pitzer spokesperson Jim Marchant told TSL via email. An unspecified number of employees opted to be furloughed voluntarily.

“A handful of Pitzer employees recently voluntarily chose to be furloughed because it financially benefited them and the college,” Marchant said. “No employees were encouraged to pursue this opportunity, those that were furloughed chose to do so willingly.”

Nearly all other 5Cs have furloughed workers to deal with the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Scripps College partially furloughed 59 employees from dining and custodial departments Aug. 30. Pomona College began furloughing hundreds of employees Oct. 1. Harvey Mudd College furloughed an unknown number of employees from facilities and maintenance departments this summer.

Claremont McKenna College has avoided staff furloughs for the fall semester. According to its website, CMC has “continued the full pay of employees” for over seven months. Earlier this week CMC announced it will temporarily furlough staff in December if students do not return to campus for the spring 2021 semester.

To cope with the financial downturn, Pitzer has cut operating budgets and retirement contributions, and reduced wages for employees making over $100,000, Laura Troendle, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration, told TSL via email last week. 

President Melvin Oliver’s salary was cut by 10 percent, according to a separate email Troendle sent to TSL last week. Other employees making over $100,000 had salaries cut by up to 5.5 percent, Troendle said. She also said Pitzer reduced retirement contributions by 2 percent and operational budgets by 30 percent.

Pitzer has not needed to increase endowment spending, Troendle said. Scripps increased its endowment spending rate for the 2020-21 academic year, TSL previously reported.

Pitzer’s senior administration, Budget Implementation Committee and Board of Directors prioritized protecting the “most vulnerable members” of the community,” Marchant said, including giving “low-income students receiving financial aid, and employees at the lower end of the pay scale – many who work in service-related positions on campus” the financial support they need.

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