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University of Arizona furlough plan delayed for second time
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University of Arizona furlough plan delayed for second time

Robbins, Carmona

After announcing the University of Arizona would return to in-person classes this fall, President Robert Robbins now says the increase of COVID-19 cases in the state could affect the start of the upcoming semester.

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins ordered a last-minute delay for a campus-wide furlough plan, saying doing so gives more time for feedback.

“While this move will cost the University approximately $4 million, it will allow us to come together and have meaningful and transparent discussions regarding the tradeoffs we must consider for all faculty and staff who will be impacted,” Robbins said in a letter issued late Tuesday, just before furloughs were set to begin.

The delay comes days after more than 1,300 faculty members voted to push for a delay among 3,513 voting-eligible faculty.

“After much discussion and serious contemplation of the financial impacts of any delay, I have decided the best way forward is to delay the implementation of the University’s Furlough and Furlough-based Salary Programs from July 1 to August 10, 2020,” Robbins said.

Faculty hoped to delay the start of a cost-saving plan until Sept. 7.

The furlough plan affects workers making $44,500 or more. The initial plan released in April did not have a minimum salary floor. It is expected to save about $95 million amid projected losses of $250 million for the UA through the 2021 fiscal year.

Robbins said he’ll be organizing meetings beginning next week to “identify the best solutions to this challenging crisis.”

“As you know, from the outset of the crisis, our primary goals regarding our finances have been to reduce the need for an institutional layoff program and to preserve as much employment as possible. I remain convinced this should be our goal,” Robbins said.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Academic Justice — a group of some 500 faculty, staff and graduate students — said 200 employees have already been laid off or did not have their contracts renewed.

Robbins acknowledged during a news conference last week that at least some of the layoffs mentioned by the coalition have happened.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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