OU, WSU announce pay cuts, plans for students amid COVID-19

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Oakland and Wayne State university leaders are taking pay cuts and making plans for students amid the challenges of the COVID-10 pandemic.

At Oakland, President Ora Pescovitz told the campus community Friday that she is planning for a "hybrid approach" to fall classes that includes face-to face and remote instruction.

"At this point, indications are that COVID-19 will remain a threat into the fall," Pescovitz wrote.

She also announced that she is taking a 20% pay cut, and executives and deans will take cuts that range from 3% to 5%. Other cost-cutting measures to address budget hits from the crisis include freezes on hiring, travel and other spending.

Oakland University

"During these precarious times, our obligation is to act prudently and decisively to best position Oakland for the path ahead," Pescovitz said. "Although we hope for the best, we must confront difficult financial realities and plan for a significant budgetary shortfall this year."

Pescovitz's announcement about the fall semester comes the day after Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley said during a tele-town hall meeting that they were leaning toward online classes in the fall.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said he was planning for a "public health-informed fall semester" on campus.

Wilson announced Thursday that he would take a 10% pay cut through the end of the year. WSU executives, along with the deans of the 13 colleges, will voluntarily reduce their pay 5%.

Wayne State University

The pay cuts will go into Wayne State's Student Emergency Fund, which current students may access to cover emergencies such as transportation, food, utilities, medications or personal tragedy.

All students are eligible, Wilson said, but the focus will be on providing help to students who can't tap into federal CARES funds, awarded earlier this month to colleges and universities during the coronavirus outbreak to help students with cash grants. Wayne State University was awarded $9.6 million for student aid.  

"The program ensures that temporary hardships do not prevent students from continuing forward and achieving their dreams of a college degree," Wilson wrote.  "All of our current students are considered part of the Warrior family, and we want to make sure all of our students are eligible for this support."