UVM faculty and students protest potential cuts

Published: May. 14, 2020 at 6:17 AM EDT
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University of Vermont faculty and students are protesting against potential cuts.

Some University of Vermont lecturers are facing pay cuts as the school struggles to find its way out of a multimillion-dollar hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The non-tenured instructors are represented by a union, but that might not be enough to protect their pay.

"People, you have got to take the most money from the people who have the most money!" said Annelies McVoy, the spouse of UVM professor who was among dozens of protesters on campus Thursday opposing the proposed cuts ahead of the board of trustees annual May meeting. The group paraded in cars down Main Street and around UVM President Suresh Garimella's house.

He cited tens of millions of dollars lost because of expenses, increased student aid and an expected drop in student enrollment. Some of those losses could be made up by reducing nontenured educator pay by 25 percent for as many as 72 educators.

"My salary is being reduced by 25 percent. I'm a single parent and that is putting my family into below the liveable wage, the Vermont livable wage," said Rachael Montesano, a UVM senior lecturer. She says she must consider getting a part-time job to support her family aside from teaching a full course load.

And some fear this will impact the amount of time they can give to students. Protesters point out that administrators make far greater salaries, including Garmiella, whose base salary is $480,000

"The burden of these cuts is really coming on the lowest-paid faculty at the university," said Sarah Alexander, a UVM associate professor. "We are also asking that the administration open the books to us. We don't know that cuts need to be made. We don't have that information, so we want some transparency."

UVM officials say many senior administrators are already forgoing a month of salary. They say some -- but not all -- lecturers were informed that their upcoming appointments would be a 0.75 teaching load. The lecturers at Thursday's rally say they're anticipating a full course load in the fall, but half in the spring.