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University of Missouri makes first round of job cuts as COVID-19 continues to hurt revenue


The University of Missouri said Friday that it has laid off 49 people in its first round of job cuts to make up for revenue lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those cuts include 32 jobs at MU Health Care announced earlier in the day.

“We have taken several actions — including reducing office and travel expenses, voluntary pay reductions among university leaders, and hiring restrictions — but we still find ourselves facing significant budget pressures and must do more,” Mun Choi, UM System president and interim MU chancellor, said in a news release. “We are grateful to those who have worked to support the mission of the university. We have the utmost respect for these employees and will provide services, support and transition packages during this difficult time.”

MU plans to release numbers of personnel actions each Friday. The news about the 49 employees followed an earlier release from MU Health about its 32 job reductions.

MU Health employs more than 6,000 people, a spokeswoman said. The University of Missouri's Columbia campus employed more than 11,000 full and part-time faculty and staff, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

"Hundreds of inpatient beds have been unoccupied, non-emergent surgeries have been cancelled, and clinic visits reduced significantly," CEO Jonathan Curtright said in a news release, repeating comments that were made in Thursday's statement about School of Medicine cuts. "We are forced to act quickly and decisively to ensure our long-term financial stability and growth moving forward."

On Thursday the medical school said it would require staff to take either a 10 percent reduction in pay for three months or a one-week furlough.

The cuts to positions and pay are the latest in a string of cost-saving measures.

Leaders at MU Health and the medical school have taken a 10 percent pay cut for the next three months, travel has been suspended and other purchases put on hold. MU Health has canceled more than 300 open positions.

Meanwhile, 195 MU employees have volunteered for pay reductions that will save about $800,000, according to a release. Reduced pay in 390 UM System jobs is expected to save about $1.5 million, the release said.

"We're in a bad spot and its tough right now for everyone," said Christian Basi, a spokesperson for MU. "We are not the only university going through this, you're seeing this happen in universities across the country at universities as big or bigger than Mizzou and so it's been something that we know we're not alone in, but it's never an easy decision."

The job cuts are part of a nationwide economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Missouri Department of Labor said this week more than 400,000 initial unemployment claims were filed between March 15 and April 18. More than 30 million Americans filed claims in that time.

Basi said MU has a transition assistance program and resources for employees who are laid off.

"We're working on anytime there is a layoff in a department they work very closely with human resources, because the vast majority of our staff are going to be eligible for this transition assistance," Basi said.

MU said uncertainty of how the pandemic will play out makes it impossible to determine when the cuts will end.

Basi says the university has a new website in the works which will house updates on job cuts and other cost cutting efforts by MU every Friday.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


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