Harvard announces salary and hiring freeze due to coronavirus

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Harvard Business School

Brooks Kraft LLC | Corbis | Getty Images

Harvard University  is implementing an immediate hiring and salary freeze, canceling or deferring discretionary spending and delaying some capital projects due to financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The university said the hiring and salary freeze is for “exempt employees” — those who are typically nonunion members and are not eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“While many decisions and choices will come into sharper focus in the future, it is already clear that we need to take some actions immediately to align our spending with the decline in our revenue,” said a joint email from President Lawrence Bacow, Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp and Provost Alan Garber. The email was sent Monday to the university community.

Bacow, Lapp, and Garber are taking 25% salary cuts. Senior school administrators, including deans, vice presidents and vice provosts, are also reducing their salaries to contribute to a support fund for employees experiencing financial hardships. 

“Harvard, like other universities around the world, will not be spared the economic consequences of the pandemic,” the institution’s senior leaders said.

“Our major sources of revenue — tuition, the endowment, executive and continuing education, philanthropy, and research support — are threatened, and we expect to see increased demand for financial aid as the economic fallout from the pandemic hits family budgets,” the email said.

University officials also addressed the possibility of layoffs and furloughs saying, “We’re still working to gain a more complete picture of the financial conditions of the university.” 

Harvard is one of the many higher education institutions facing financial strains from the global health crisis.

Stanford University enacted a 20% pay cut for its provost and president, according to The Daily Post of Palo Alto, California. The University of Southern California also reduced the salaries of its senior leadership officers. University President Carol Folt said she will take a 20% reduction in pay, while the provost, senior vice presidents and deans will take 10% cuts. 

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