Lehigh University generic

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh University will furlough some employees and is finding ways to cut down on expenses as it deals with financial issues associated with COVID-19.

The furloughs and other measures come as the university is expecting a $40-million budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1.

The university will temporarily furlough employees who can not work remotely beginning July 1, according to a university letter to the community. Employees on furlough will still get health benefits, and the university will cover the employee premium expenses.

The university said it expects that furloughed employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

President John Simon’s salary will be reduced by 20 percent, and the senior leadership and college deans’ salaries will be reduced by 10 percent, the university said. Vice presidents and deans have been asked to identify expense reductions of 10 percent of their current year budgets for evaluation.

All university retirement contributions to active employees will be temporarily suspended.

The university said it would not hold in-person classes after Northampton County moves into the yellow phase.

The university said if it meets prerequisites, it will allow undergraduate students back to campus and resume in-person activity when the county moves into the green phase of Governor Tom Wolf's phased reopening plan.

The news comes as Lafayette College in Easton also prepares to furlough some employees and cut salaries amid the pandemic.

Employees making $37,000 or more, as of July 1, will see their salaries cut by 0-6%, depending on salary level, the college president said in a letter on Thursday. The average reduction is just over 3%, the letter said.

The college will also stop contributing to employees' retirement plans for 2020-21, and employees will no longer have a mandatory contribution.

Lafayette also said it will furlough a "limited number of employees" for June and July 2020, though it did not say how many. The furloughed employees will be those who cannot do their jobs while physical operations of campus are restricted, or whose work can be spared in the summer, the letter said.

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