Napolitano and UC chancellors will take a 10% pay cut amid coronavirus-related budget crisis

University of California President Janet Napolitano
University of California President Janet Napolitano announced a 10% pay cut for herself and chancellors as the coronavirus outbreak devastated UC finances.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Monday that she and all 10 campus chancellors will take a 10% pay cut in the coming fiscal year to help offset the public university system’s staggering financial losses caused by the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter to the campus community, Napolitano also announced salary freezes for nonunionized staff and nonstudent academic employees, along with efforts to cut costs in such areas as nonessential travel and service agreements. But she said UC would continue its academic advancement program, which awards merit promotions and pay increases, to ensure a stable faculty pipeline and maintain the system’s vaunted teaching and research enterprise.

Napolitano noted that estimated systemwide financial losses totaled nearly $1.2 billion from mid-March through April as the pandemic forced UC hospitals and health centers to suspend elective medical procedures and campuses to send most students home, shift to online learning and lose revenue from canceled housing and dining contracts. In addition, Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a revised state budget for 2020-21 that includes a 10% funding cut of $372 million — a reversal from his January proposal of a 5% increase for the UC system.


“We anticipate these losses will continue to climb in the months ahead,” Napolitano wrote. “I know some of this news is unsettling, during an already difficult time. Though we have many difficult challenges ahead, UC is resilient and we will get through this together.”

Napolitano earns a base pay of $570,000, ranking 73rd among 268 public college leaders tracked by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The average base pay of UC chancellors is about $500,000, compared with about $670,000 for public college peers in the Assn. of American Universities.

UC will continue to work with state and federal authorities to secure more funding, she wrote, but much of that assistance is designated for student financial aid.

Napolitano also said UC officials would begin discussions with employee unions “to be sure they understand the current reality of our financial circumstances.” Several UC employee unions, however, are scheduled to present research findings Tuesday that they say show the university is “remarkably well-positioned” to withstand a pandemic-caused fiscal disruption without layoffs, tuition hikes or other severe austerity measures, according to a statement by AFSCME Local 3299.

UC regents are set to discuss the effect of COVID-19 on university finances and academic programs in online meetings beginning Wednesday.