Morehouse drops furloughs to stop planned faculty walkout

Dr. David A. Thomas, the 12th President of Morehouse College. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Morehouse College is dropping planned cost-cutting measures that included employee furloughs, its president told staff and students in an email Monday.

In exchange, faculty at the historically black college in Atlanta will not proceed with a walkout, the email said.

“Effective November 1, the requirement for faculty and exempt employees to take one furlough day per month is no longer in effect,” wrote Morehouse’s president, David A. Thomas. “We are also ending our plan to discontinue the College’s contribution to the 403(b) retirement plan. My decision corresponds with the faculty now having voted to end the planned walkout. It also reflects my conclusion that a walkout would have done irreparable harm to the College at a time when we are gaining positive momentum to place ourselves on an accelerated upward trajectory.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution received a copy of the email late Monday, which was confirmed by a Morehouse spokeswoman.

Morehouse announced the cuts last month to fill a $5 million budget gap owed by 500 current students in unpaid tuition and fees. The furloughs were scheduled to be once a month over the next nine months. Thomas wrote Monday he discussed the financial challenges with various groups and that several alumni and donors have increased contributions to the college.

Morehouse has 415 full-time employees. The walkout was scheduled to begin as soon as Wednesday.

Thomas warned the college remains “significantly challenged” to meet its monthly operating costs of about $5 million a month.

“We will continue to focus on reducing our operating cost, increasing fundraising for unrestricted dollars and general scholarships as well as cultivating major gifts, and pursuing new streams of revenue,” Thomas wrote. “We must also be prepared for the possibility that insufficient improvement has occurred by year end and significant changes to our budget will be required.”