Indiana Daily Student

IU trustees approve salary freeze, early graduation of medical students

The IU Board of Trustees approved early graduation for certain medical students and a $600 million dollar line of credit at their Friday meeting, which focused on the university's ongoing response to problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. President Michael McRobbie also announced that he is canceling previously approved 2021 salary increases. 

McRobbie commended the faculty and students for moving about 18,000 classes online. He said the university has spent over 20 million minutes on Zoom since the change, and over 40,000 videos were created on Kaltura Media Gallery.

“It is important that we understand and appreciate the sheer magnitude and scale of this effort,” he said. 

He said the university is crafting plans to reschedule many canceled events to the fall or do them virtually. 

About 135 IU School of Medicine students who requested to graduate early to help with coronavirus efforts were approved by the board. The students who volunteered will graduate April 15 and be placed with health care facilities.

Due to possible financial problems the university could face because of the coronavirus, McRobbie said the university is on a hiring freeze and a salary increase freeze. He also canceled all previously approved salary increases in the 2021 fiscal year. 

The board approved an application for IU to request an estimated $600 million to $1 billion line of credit from J.P Morgan. The line of credit would be a safety net for the university if there is a delay in tuition revenue in the fall. The money could be used while other budget cuts and decisions are made. 

The delay in revenue could be seen if the university decides to start classes later and waits to collect tuition or reduces rates if classes remain online for the fall semester, all of which is yet to be determined. McRobbie said he has created a Restart Committee with IU health experts to determine when it is safe for students to return to campus. 

The university would pay $2 million dollars for the credit, whether or not it is used, and would be expected to pay the money back.

The board agreed money cannot be taken from the credit without its approval and will discuss how to know when to use the money at the June meeting. 

Nonessential construction projects worth $77 million have been delayed in an effort to save money as well. 

The board decided to prevent a construction contract for the International Center be signed until the board meets again in June in case it need to hold off on the project to help alleviate financial problems.  

The new Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design building can continue the building contract process without the board because it’s completely donor funded. 

Other projects that will continue as normally scheduled on Bloomington’s campus include renovations to the McCalla complex , which will be a exhibition center, and the IU Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology building, both on Indiana Avenue. The board allowed this because the $66 million for those projects is from the state and cannot be reallocated for other university budget needs that may occur due to the pandemic. 

All construction projects that have started are still going as planned. 

The board also approved a new master's degree in food studies at IU-Bloomington.

The next meeting will be June 11-12.

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