By Wausau Pilot & Review

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will furlough hundreds of workers beginning in early May, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Officials characterize the furloughs as “cost-reduction steps to address the impact of coronavirus on operations, as the university grapples with an estimated $13.5 million loss from spring through August.

Estimated losses include refunds of student housing, dining and continuing student worker pay, operational costs of response, including shifting classes online and canceling many campus activities and events.

“We are faced with difficult decisions to reduce costs,” Chancellor Bernie Patterson said Wednesday.

Beginning in early May and continuing through the month, about 200 employees will be placed on consecutive-day furloughs. This represents 15 percent of the workforce. Notifications to these individuals began Monday.

Those furloughed remain employed by the university and retain benefits, including health and life insurance, vacation, sick leave and retirement. Furloughs will vary in length, depending on the unit’s mission. Many consecutive-day furloughs will be through August.

In addition, workforce-wide furloughs will be implemented in the weeks ahead. The goal is to offset financial losses, minimize disruption to services, preserve jobs and balance compensation reductions across the university.

“These are difficult decisions for us all. I am deeply aware of the effect this will have on your lives. I appreciate your dedication and the work you do every day to support our students,” Patterson said. “These measures aim to spread the impact as equitably as possible, as compassionately as possible, while preserving our educational mission.

Patterson said he anticipates returning to campus with some form of face-to-face classes in the fall.

“We are confident we will persevere through this difficult time,” Patterson said.