The policy change will lead to new wording in faculty contracts for the coming year. Until the change, instructors could not be assigned wholesale days away from work without pay.
We hope very much that the policy will never have to be used, said Burns Newsome, vice chancellor of legal affairs.
He noted that nearly every other public university system has similar wording in its contract allowing furloughs.
Despite the boards action, President William A. Bloodworth Jr. doesnt foresee any furloughs in the near future for Augusta State University.
It will affect us only if budget conditions get bad enough, Dr. Bloodworth said Tuesday. I dont think what the board did is a prediction of what will happen.
The action of the board resolved an inequity issue in which some university employees were excluded from furloughs. Furloughs now apply to all employees.
Last month, Dr. Bloodworth told faculty members that the universitys conservative spending had put it on solid financial footing for the coming fiscal year, giving a bit of good budget news. For the first time, the state is allowing universities to carry over a small portion of their funding from one fiscal year to the next, and ASU expects to have money left over to do that, he said.
Legislators had criticized Chancellor Erroll Davis for his reluctance to impose furloughs in response to budget cuts while other state agencies were sending their workers home without pay. Davis told lawmakers during the legislative session that ended last month that he didnt want to furlough non-faculty staff as long as the contracts protected faculty from furloughs. He also said he preferred permanent cuts to temporary savings.
At this point, savings are increasingly difficult to achieve, Davis told the regents, adding that the states tax collections in April were 21 percent below those of April 2008, leaving the state nearly 10 percent behind in collections for the fiscal year to date.
The formal policy gives the president of each of the systems 35 colleges and universities the discretion on when to impose furloughs, and it instructs Davis staff to draw up procedures for implementing it.
Staff Writer Greg Gelpi contributed to this report.