Stanford University continues to tighten its budget to address lost revenue due to the pandemic shutdown, including permanently laying off 208 employees, putting 30 additional employees on furlough and eliminating more than 400 vacant positions.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced the cuts in a message to the campus community last week.
Though the university's board of trustees approved a budget plan for 2020-21 that includes a 3% increase in endowment payout to support student financial aid, a 10% decrease in payout from other endowment funds to "mitigate market volatility" and the tapping of $150 million of unrestricted endowment funds to help balance the budget, the workforce cuts were still necessary, he wrote.
"Although cuts to non-financial aid budgets have been less deep than we initially feared, they have still meant that units and departments have needed to make reductions in spending," Tessier-Lavigne wrote. "Because salaries are such a large component of the budgets of all units, unit leaders have had to make difficult choices about their workforces over the next year."
The permanent layoffs include reductions to Stanford's athletic staff, announced in July.
Employees who have been laid off, either temporarily or permanently, will stay on the payroll for 60 days, he said. Employees who are temporarily laid off may continue medical benefits and people who have permanently lost their jobs will be eligible for career transition services, severance pay and continued medical benefits.
Stanford still plans to bring undergraduates back to campus in the fall with numerous safeguards in place, including mask requirements, regular testing, temperature checks at dining halls and contact tracing in the event of infections. But the resurgence of COVID-19 cases locally and across the state could disrupt that plan — and lead to further layoffs, Tessier-Lavigne said.
"If the pandemic continues to worsen in our region and we are not allowed to bring back students as planned, there could be further significant impacts on our operations and revenue streams. As a result, at this time we cannot exclude the possibility of further layoffs, temporary or permanent, at some future date, although we earnestly hope they will not be necessary," he wrote.
Stanford is encouraging undergraduate students and their families to make back-up plans for fall housing, to purchase refundable tickets for travel and to bring to campus no more than two suitcases and a backpack — "in other words, what a student can reasonably carry," university leaders said.
The university said it will provide another update on plans for the fall quarter in mid-August.
California's colleges and universities are also awaiting specific reopening guidance for higher education institutions from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.