Faculty mulls four-day work week

Salary reductions, a hiring freeze, and a four-day work week may all soon be part of Florida A&M University’s future. 

On Monday’s general faculty meeting, a series of options called “Potential Reduction Measures” were proposed to the university’s staff.  Some of these measures could go into effect as early as next month.

The proposal of a four-day work week was the main topic of discussion during the meeting.  If approved by the Board of Trustees, the new weekly schedule could go into effect on May 29. 

Noted in a handout given to the faculty at the meeting the main goal of the new work week is a reduction in energy costs.  Up to $300,000 is estimated to be saved by closing several of the university’s facilities on Fridays.  As of now, the four-day proposal is only for the upcoming summer, beginning May 29 and ending Aug. 7. 

FAMU Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris, who presented the four-day proposal, said the new week schedule for academics would start May 11 and FAMU facilities will close early beginning May 29. 

According to Harris, colleges such as Norfolk State University have gone to a four-day plan and have had positive results. 

“We are hoping this potential plan will boost employee morale,” Harris said. 

When asked if the four-day plan could carry on to spring and fall semesters, Harris ensured that this was temporarily for the summer months.  But she went on to say that other semesters could be considered for the “list of possibilities” in the future.

“It’s already depressing,” said the Vice President of Administrative and Financial Services Teresa Hardee.  ” I know there will be brighter days, but right now we’ve got to get through these next two years,”

Florida’s House and Senate bills spending reductions are still pending, but Hardee presented a worst-case scenario budget to prepare faculty in the next few years.

On the budget list for potential reduction are “low productivity programs.”  This does not necessarily include programs with low enrollment. 

“All academic programs will be assessed on multiple criteria,” Hardee said. 

A reduction in funding for faculty travel is also being considered.
“Pending” was the key word during Monday’s faculty meeting.  The administration planned to prepare the university’s faculty for a two-year “bumpy ride.”  However, faculty remained optimistic.

“I think it is a lot better than what it could be,” said FAMU physics professor Kyron Williams. “Everything could be a lot worse.  If this means avoiding lay-offs that means the staff is going to be receptive and react positively to this idea.”