IU has not had to enact staff and faculty layoffs unlike many other universities across the country. However, IU altered its yearly budget and asked all university departments to cut spending by 5% for the 2020-21 school year so there could be a general fund reduction.
During the fall 2020 semester, there were historically low enrollment numbers among first-year college students. This meant universities received less income from tuition, which led to decreased budgets for the school year. IU had only a slight decrease in enrollment compared to others, with a 1.1% decrease for fall 2020.
Eliza Pavalko, vice provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, said all units and departments on campus have had to cut their budgets by 5% because the university needed to allocate money for mitigation measures. These budget cuts were not allowed to come from personnel, which includes firing, giving salary raises and hiring new faculty and staff. Cuts were made from the budget usually dedicated for travel and construction projects, Pavalko said.
“The effort is there to protect the people we have before we're hiring other people,” Pavalko said.
Laying off faculty and staff is viewed as a worst-case scenario and was never considered by the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs, especially because there was more reliance on faculty this year to revamp teaching into a COVID-19 safe format, Pavalko said.
“Our faculty have really dug in and worked really hard to make this work,” Pavalko said. “I think cutting the people who are so central would have been counterproductive.”
IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said effective planning and budget management allowed the university to avoid laying off faculty and staff.
“IU entered the pandemic in really good fiscal shape,” Carney said. “Our president and fiscal officers have really shown up and made sure that we're in a good fiscal position.”
Carney said luckily IU has not experienced the financial struggles many other universities have. He said faculty and staff are thankful IU has remained strong during the pandemic.
“Things are different in other states, so we can't compare ourselves to other places necessarily, but we've been able to avoid the pain that has hit some other state schools across the country because of our good administration,” Carney said.