University of Miami to institute wage freezes, budget cuts

The University of Miami plans to cut its budget and freeze salaries, and may suspend pension contributions for employees as it grapples with the worsening economic downturn.

While no massive layoffs are expected, faculty at each of UM's 12 schools and colleges have been asked to come up with proposals that would slice 5 percent and 10 percent from their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year that begins June 1, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Menendez.

"We're considering all our options," with a goal of having "the least negative impact on the workforce," Menendez said.

The private Coral Gables university has 15,000 students and is one of South Florida's largest employers, with a faculty and staff of 13,000. In recent years the university has been in a growth mode, notably adding prominent faculty to its medical school and buying Cedars Medical Center.

Yet as economic woes have spilled onto the university campuses, revenue has declined, forcing UM to balance its budget.

Fundraising, which accounts for 7.7 percent of UM's $1.9 billion budget, is down 6 percent so far since June 1 over the year before, Menendez said. And the university's endowment – $736 million at the end of fiscal 2008, about 2 percent of the budget – has lost 25 percent since June 1, amid turmoil in the investment markets.

Caring for patients at the University of Miami Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, UM clinics and affiliated doctors' offices throughout South Florida accounts for the largest slice of revenue – 41.4 percent. Patient care and hospital revenue are up, Menendez said, but not by as much as projected.

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