UMD orders hiring freeze to offset losses from coronavirus closures

The University of Maryland's Main Administration Building. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

The University of Maryland ordered a hiring freeze for faculty and staff on Thursday in an attempt to curtail the financial impact of the coronavirus, university President Wallace Loh announced.

“I regret the need to proceed with these fiscal measures,” Loh wrote in a letter to faculty and staff. “However, in times of adversity, we must plan for the worst, while we pray for the best.”

Along with the hiring freeze, Loh also instructed vice presidents of all divisions to plan to reduce expenditure rates and delay any nonessential spending.

The university is expected to lose close to $90 million through this semester as a result of the pandemic, which has forced building closures and thousands of students off the campus.

As of Thursday morning, Maryland had more than 2,300 confirmed cases of the virus, with nearly 500 in Prince George’s County. Twenty members of the university community had tested positive — 16 students and four employees.

The hiring suspension announced Thursday also halts currently active searches to fill empty positions, provost Mary Ann Rankin wrote in an email to faculty and staff. Limited exceptions may be available for critical positions, she added.

Agreements with contingent category-2 employees or professional track faculty that are up for renewal do not need permission to be renewed, Rankin wrote, while no guidance was given for temporary faculty and staff renewals.

“I understand that this action is extremely disappointing,” she wrote, “but given the state of the global pandemic, and our current fiscal uncertainties and obligations, we have little choice.”

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