Furlough Relief Fund will Assist 158 Employees

January 18, 2009

CLEMSON, SC – January 17, 2009 — More than 300 gifts totaling $71,363 were made to the Clemson University Foundation for the One Clemson Furlough Relief Fund and money will be disbursed to recipients next week.  

“Thanks to the generosity of the Clemson family, the relief fund managers were able to approve awards to 158 employees in need,” said Matt Watkins, administrator of the fund. 

He said donations came from faculty, staff, students, administrators, trustees, businesses and friends of Clemson in individual amounts ranging from $2 to $5,000.

Clemson President James F. Barker expressed his thanks to donors, many of whom also are affected by the furlough. Clemson implemented the five-day furlough for all faculty members and staff because of $38 million in state funding cuts since July 1, 2008.

“Immediately after the announcement, faculty and staff began asking how they could help their fellow employees who would be hurt the most by the furlough,” Barker said. “They suggested a relief fund, and I am proud we could make that happen. It says a lot about the unity and spirit of the Clemson community.”

Watkins said notification letters are being sent to applicants. Of the 222 requests submitted, two were withdrawn, 19 were ineligible and 43 were not funded. Recipients will get payments ranging from $289 to $485 from the Clemson University Foundation. Of those receiving an award, 75 percent will come within $15 of having all of their lost wages replaced, minus the required FICA taxes.

“Given the funds available, we were very glad to be able to give some significant help to those most in need,” Watkins said. “Most were essentially made whole.”   

Under the guidelines established for the fund, only permanent, full-time employees were eligible and no one could receive more than the amount of pay lost to the furlough. Priority was given to employees at the bottom of the pay scale who face the most severe financial hardship because of the furlough. All of the contributions to the fund were distributed except for the withheld taxes.

Three Clemson retirees served as fund managers: Cecil Huey, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering; Holley Ulbrich, professor emeritus of economics; and Dick Simmons, retired director of human resources. The three reviewed all the applications, verified information with Human Resources and made the distribution decisions.

In making their tough decisions, the managers looked not only at Clemson pay, but also at factors like family size, total household income and other information the applicants provided, Watkins said. 

“These individuals put a tremendous amount of thought into the process,” he said. “Clemson and the Clemson University Foundation are extremely grateful to them for their time, effort and good judgment.”