University cuts nonessential spending, moves summer term online

The first term of summer classes will be moved online and all international summer programs will be canceled amid uncertainty about the campus’ reopening date, Provost Charles Zukoski and Chief Financial Officer James Staten announced Friday in an email to the USC community. The University will also instate a pause in hiring and cuts to administrators’ salaries to reduce costs in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Now is the time for us to look inward to ensure that when USC emerges from this crisis, we will remain the thriving research university that has and will continue to make our community, our city, and our world a better place,” the email read. “We need to make some tough calls right now to address the serious financial consequences we face.”

The email cited a decline in donations, increased demand for financial aid and a reduction in philanthropy as circumstances that have necessitated such adjustments. Legal issues, including the $215 million class action settlement in the George Tyndall case agreed upon earlier this year, have also exacerbated the University’s financial difficulties. 

Several senior administrators, including President Carol Folt, will take pay cuts to balance the costs, the email stated. Folt’s salary will be reduced 20%, while Zukoski, school deans and senior vice presidents will have a 10% reduction in their salaries. The money saved from the pay cuts will be used to fund financial aid and emergency assistance for the USC community.

In addition to continuing to disallow nonessential travel for staff, the University will freeze Universitywide hiring for faculty and staff positions until further notice. Deans will consult with Zukoski regarding ongoing faculty searches and determine whether their hiring processes will continue this semester.

Capital projects and discretionary spending on food, meals, events and banquets will also be suspended until further notice. 

Online classes will continue through the first summer term, and all in-person events related to the session will move online, according to the email. Summer programs abroad, including Problems Without Passports and Maymesters, are canceled. The University will determine the status of in-person courses and activities for the second summer term later this month. 

“We did not make these decisions lightly but taking swift action now will leave us with more flexibility as this crisis unfolds,” the email read. “In the coming days and weeks, we will collaborate with leaders across the University on any future adjustments we may need to make to address the ongoing financial impact.”