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University of Hawaii to restore executive salaries due to furloughs delay

The University of Hawaii announced today that the salaries of all executive-managerial employees — which were reduced for two months to reduce costs — will be restored.

The reductions were originally implemented in November in anticipation of impending furloughs for all state employees due to a budget shortfall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The restoration will be retroactive to Jan. 1.

At the time it was announced last fall, UH had said there would be a 9.23% to 11% reduction for the 216 employees, which included chancellors, deans and various directors.

On Dec. 23, however, Gov. David Ige announced that the state employee furloughs scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 would be deferred until at least July 1.

“UH will honor its commitment to restore the salaries of its 216 [executive-managerial] employees when the furloughs were cancelled for the current fiscal year,” said the university in an online news post. “While the changes in compensation require public posting, this restoration to prior salary levels does not require action by the regents.”

Other tactical cost-saving measures implemented last March will remain in place, UH said, due to the economic disruption to the state that is anticipated to last for at least two to four years — and more will need to be done.

“Work is actively underway across the UH system on more strategic cost saving initiatives, academic and administrative restructuring, and development of revenue opportunities,” said the university in the post. “This work is all intended to reposition UH for a more sustainable future while meeting the state’s most urgent needs for post-pandemic recovery.”

The salary reductions for executive-managerial employees could be considered again.

When the reductions were announced last fall, UH President David Lassner had volunteered to reduce his own total compensation of $295,004 by 20%. Although his salary could have been restored, as well, Lassner volunteered to keep his reduction in place.

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