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Rice announces freeze on staff hiring and cancels pay raises for next year


By Savannah Kuchar     4/3/20 7:57pm

Rice announced that it is implementing a staff hiring freeze effective immediately, according to an email sent to division leads and administrators on Wednesday night. The email, which was obtained by the Thresher, also said that there will be no pay raises for staff for fiscal year 2021. 

According to the email sent by Angela Lipari, director of talent acquisition and compensation, there will be no staff raises during this time period, and any minimum wage or other adjustments that were intended to occur during fiscal year 2021 have been canceled.

“Earlier today, an email went out to all the deans, vice presidents, vice provosts and directors outlining several measures the university is taking to respond to the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our university as it has many others,” Lipari wrote. “Your hard work and partnership as we adapt to these ever-evolving circumstances is deeply appreciated.”

In her email, Lipari said that the hiring freeze will apply to all new hires, temporary or permanent and part-time or full-time, and any current job posting for staff positions will be placed on hold. However, offers extended to potential employees as of March 30 will be honored. 

Kathy Collins, vice president for finance, said that the hiring freeze will only apply to staff positions, but the restriction on pay raises will apply to any employee, staff or faculty member, except for faculty members who are being promoted.

Lipari said that exceptions will be made case-by-case based on justifications submitted by a dean, vice president, vice provost or director. 

“Criteria would include the essential nature of the hire for safety, security, compliance or ongoing operation of critical university functions,” Lipari wrote. “Since only limited exceptions will be granted, it is important you are judicious and set a high bar for exceptions you request.”

Collins said that there have been no pay cuts, layoffs or furloughs for any current Rice staff and that these measures now are being taken in response to the current economic downturn. In a previous story on tuition raises, Collins had said that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely cause a substantial decrease in the university’s endowment.

It is unclear whether this pay continuation policy applies to Rice’s contracted workers, as other universities have excluded contracted workers from similar policies. Collins said that contracted workers are not considered Rice employees and their compensation is determined by their employer, not Rice. However, the pay-related policies and changes do apply to Rice employees on temporary contracts, according to Collins. 

“The freeze on staff hiring and pay raises for all employees, except faculty receiving promotions, are initial steps to help Rice navigate the financial crisis, which is expected to have a negative impact on the university's endowment and operating revenues,” Collins said.

According to the email, any position postings that do not receive an exception will be automatically canceled April 10. It is currently unclear when the hiring freeze will end. 

“We have not set an end date for the freeze. We will monitor it as we go,” Collins said. “But I do expect it to be in place for a while.”

[4/3/2020 8:40 p.m.] This article was updated with more quotes from Liparis email and a new headline. This story will be updated as we receive more information.

[4/5/2020 5:30 p.m.] This article was updated with additional quotes from Collins.

[4/7/2020 9:15 p.m.] This article was updated with additional quotes from Collins.

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