A Message from President Bob Caslen

June 19, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Earlier today, the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees approved our 2020-2021 Fiscal Year budget for the university. The $1.63 billion-dollar budget incorporates the impact of the economic downturn, the uncertainties of student enrollment, and costs associated with combatting the COVID-19 virus.

As we enter the new fiscal year, the university faces stark budget realities. The budget outlook before us is more serious than any the university has faced since the Great Recession, and the loss of revenue next fiscal year could surpass the recession in terms of a single year impact. It will require a new level of creativity and shared sacrifice from our entire campus community.

This past spring, as the economy sank into a recession and our COVID-19 costs escalated, I asked the senior staff and deans to take a comprehensive look at how we could reduce costs. The university faced a significant revenue shortfall, and it was imperative that we begin taking action to reduce costs. Some cost-saving measures currently underway include:

  • delaying capital construction projects, including University Village
  • deferring non-critical maintenance
  • delaying merit raises for faculty
  • filling only mission-critical positions
  • eliminating university-funded travel
  • a 10 percent voluntary pay reduction for the president, top coaches and the president’s cabinet
  • eliminating employee overtime.

I want to recognize the establishment and ongoing work of the Future Planning Group (FPG) to explore long-term cost savings and efficiencies in an effort to streamline processes, reduce duplication, eliminate non-value-added activities, and simplify work while ensuring focus on the strategic plan and direction of the university. This includes exploring centralizing administration support areas, IT, HR, Budget, Finance and Grants Administration. The FPG will continue to move forward ideas for re-engineering of our work processes. Colleges will also see budget reductions. Details will be forthcoming from the Budget Office and through your deans.

Regretfully, I have also made the difficult decision to furlough some university employees as an additional measure to cut costs. The furlough will only impact the top 25 percent of wage earners of the faculty and staff. No one making below $118,000 per year is impacted. If the economy turns, and our loss of revenue is not as severe as estimated, we will terminate the furlough as soon as possible. Additional details will be shared with affected employees in the coming days.

I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made on meeting our budget challenge. However, there is more to do. Let me assure you the approved budget will allow us to operate the university in a safe, efficient manner and permit us to innovate learning, conduct research and carry forward the business of educating our next generation of leaders.

I am very excited about this university and its future, and confident the FY 20-21 budget will not restrict our ability to lead as the flagship university of South Carolina. I will have a lot more to share with you about that vision when we unveil the university’s new Strategic Plan next month and at the State of the University address on September 9.

We remain one Gamecock family. I am proud of your work and continued commitment to excellence, especially during these unusual times. As always, I look forward to hearing your views.

Very respectfully,

Bob Caslen