Winthrop University employees learned Thursday that they're expected in the coming months to take off six days without pay.
They will have some say in which days they choose, according to the university, but biweekly paychecks between Jan. 2 and June 30 will each be docked a half-day's pay.
Most employees will be affected, including university president Anthony DiGiorgio, said spokeswoman Rebecca Masters.
The move, which university officials expect will save about $1 million, comes amid talks of future cuts in state funding.
In an e-mail to employees, DiGiorgio wrote: "Continuing conversations with a variety of Columbia sources indicate additional budget cuts definitely are ahead. While the precise predictions range from 2 percent to 5 percent, a consensus appears to (be) forming around the 4-5 percent level."
For Winthrop, that means about $920,000.
"Starting a furlough now ... makes the impact on each paycheck less than it would be if we waited until later in the fiscal year," Masters wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
Furloughs are the latest in a string of cost-cutting that started last month when Winthrop, along with other state universities, was whacked with a 15 percent funding cut -- about $3.4 million. It was part of a statewide $488 million cut.
In managing the loss, Winthrop announced plans to cancel some elective courses, close buildings earlier, freeze hiring and charge students a $50 fee.
"This is an awful situation for the university to be in," said Cheryl Fortner-Wood, an associate professor of psychology and faculty representative to the board of trustees.
"There's a sense of inevitability with this, but nobody likes it. Faculty are being squeezed in terms of workload, and now this pay cut."
Fortner-Wood said she and other professors appreciate the way university officials have kept them informed. "I know this decision was reached painfully," she said. "It's not going to affect the good work we do."
Professors are expecting to do more work for less pay. Winthrop plans to leave several teaching positions open, which means existing classes will pick up more students.
"We kind of anticipated it coming," said economics professor Gary Stone. "It beats the alternative of not having a job."
Furloughs are the latest in a string of cost-cutting measures at Winthrop in recent weeks after the university learned it would lose about $3.4 million as part of a statewide $488 million slash in spending.
Among the other moves Winthrop has planned:
Cancel some elective courses.
Close buildings earlier.
Charge students a $50 fee.