Feb. 4, 2009
CHARLESTON -- In response to recent cuts in state funding, MUSC employees have stepped up to assist those colleagues hit hardest by mandatory furloughs implemented to offset those cuts. The MUSC Employee Furlough Relief Fund has raised $175,829.48 in gifts and pledges, which will be distributed to furloughed employees who make less than $40,000 per year, according to university officials. Almost half of the 1,200 full-time employees impacted by the university's mandatory furlough will receive complete or partial relief. The four-day furlough became effective Jan. 1.
"While we had high hopes for the fund, we only had a matter of weeks to raise the money and we did not know what kind of response we would receive," said MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D. "The number of contributors and the generosity of their gifts underscores how MUSC employees, faculty and friends feel about the university and those who work here. It is truly remarkable that even during the toughest of times, the MUSC family will rise to the occasion and take care of each other, along with the citizens of this state."
Distribution of the gifts will not require an application process, and supplemental checks will be sent in mid-April to affected employees. A committee comprised of MUSC development, human resources, financial administration, university operations and legal leadership reached a consensus that the relief would be targeted to those employees with lower incomes as it was thought that the furlough would be a greater financial hardship on them. In crafting a disbursement plan, the committee set out to provide relief to as many furloughed employees as the fund would allow, beginning with those at the lower end of the pay scale and working upward.
"I've been working here for eight years and I've learned many times that people don't just care about the work you do here, they care about you, too," said Deborah Cook, MUSC Housekeeping staff member and recipient of the fund. "This makes me feel so good; it makes me feel a lot of love. It means a lot to us in Housekeeping to get this money back; we were just happy to keep our jobs. Getting the money back means I'm able to help my mom and my gran(child) with their finances again. It means a lot, and I'm just really surprised and happy."
Stewart Mixon, MUSC chief operations officer, contributed to the fund and explained, "Given that the intent of the furloughs was to help prevent the loss of jobs throughout the university, I believe there was a general willingness by those affected to participate in the furloughs, " he said. "Of those 1200 people, almost 25 percent of them are among our lowest paid employees. I applaud the efforts of this group to help contribute to the overall well being of the university, but given the economic times that we are currently living in, I believe that giving back to the group that could least afford to see a temporary reduction in pay was the right thing to do."
Those who earn less than $30,000 annually will receive a gift that will cover their gross wages lost due to the mandatory furlough. Full-time employees earning between $30,001 and $40,000 annually will receive a partial gift based on their pay level.
"Although we wanted to make everyone 'whole' again, I hope that the MUSC family will take pride in the fact that their generosity will provide help to almost half of the furloughed employees," said Jim Fisher, MUSC vice president for Development. "The fact that we can do anything to help is fantastic, and a testament to the spirit of those at MUSC."
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.6 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit www.musc.edu or www.muschealth.com.