Top administrators to cut their salaries by 10% in response to financial strain on the university

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According to university President Dennis Assanis, the coronavirus crisis had already cost the university about $50 million by April 7.​

​Development Officer​

According to university President Dennis Assanis, the coronavirus crisis had already cost the university about $50 million by April 7. On April 4, it was announced that, in response to the enormous financial strain on the university, Assanis shared that he, Provost Robin Morgan, and Executive Vice President John Long will be voluntarily forgoing 10% of their salaries for the 2021 fiscal year.

The university’s Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) did not respond to The Review’s inquiries on how the figure of 10% was reached or when the decision to enact this pay cut was made.

Assanis’s letter to the campus community stated that coronavirus’s gross impact on the spring semester was $65 million. The letter claims this figure was calculated based on increased costs associated with the online conversion and operation, reduced revenue from international student tuition due to travel restrictions, refunds to students for a prorated portion of housing, dining and other fees, prorated parking refunds, canceled events and wages associated with temporary and part-time staff and students in an effort to enable continuity of pay through the end of May.

However, Assanis claimed that the administration was able to contain that financial impact and mitigate it down to $50 million via “deliberate cost-mitigation strategies and a $6 million allocation from federal stimulus funds under the CARES Act to offset institutional losses.”

In addition to the director of campus and public safety, the chief of campus police, the athletic director and the football and basketball coaches, all of the university’s vice presidents, deputy and vice provosts, deans and officers have also volunteered to take 5% salary cuts.

The announcement also noted that “effective July 1, 2020, the salary base for all university employees will remain frozen for Fiscal Year 2021, with no annual merit increases. Exceptions will be made for faculty and staff promotions that have already been approved.”

OCM did not respond to The Review’s inquiries on who specifically was exempted from the salary freeze.

The most recent data available on the administration members’ salaries is from a 2018 Internal Revenue Service report. In that year, Assanis made $878,236, which made him the university’s highest-paid official.

Keith Walter, the university’s chief investment officer, and Head Football Coach Danny Rocco are the second and third-most paid officials. They made $768,766 and $586,543, respectively. Neither Morgan nor Long’s salaries were available, however, the last executive vice president, Alan Brangman, made $547,516 in 2018. Similarly, the last provost, Domenico Grasso, made $515,367 in 2018.

The university’s highest paid dean in 2018 was Bruce Weber, who still heads the Lerner College of Business and Economics. He made $475,882 in 2018.

Chrissy Rawak, the university’s athletic director, made $411,684 in 2018. Daniel Rich, a professor of public policy, was the university’s top-paid professor in 2018 with an $405,951 salary. Rich narrowly topped plant and soil science professor Donald Sparks, who made $401,596 in 2018.

Monday’s announcement also stated that the university was establishing the Blue Hen Strong Fund and COVID-19 Employee Emergency Relief Fund to assist students and employees in need. However, OCM did not respond to The Review’s inquiries regarding what percentage of the funds to be directed towards coronavirus-related issues will be provided by the university. They also did not reply about what percentage it anticipates to draw from outside donations to the Blue Hen Strong Fund and COVID-19 Employee Emergency Relief Fund.

This announcement came at a time when the university’s future this upcoming fall semester is uncertain. Much of the country is already considering the possibility of reopening the economy. The university is expected to follow the Delaware state government’s lead in their decision to reopen campus.

The university will not decide whether or not to require courses for Fall 2020 be held online unless there are new social gathering limitations imposed, or if it is clear that holding in-person classes would be unsafe. The university is only allowing essential personnel to be present on campus.

This is a developing story. Check back frequently at for further updates.

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