Coronavirus update: Univ. of Delaware freezes salaries as president, football and basketball coaches and other top officials take pay cuts

University president Dennis Assanis says officials ‘are exhausting all possibilities to protect our workforce.’

University of Delaware campus

Hullihen Hall at University of Delaware's campus in Newark. (University of Delaware)

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As of Monday, there are 5,288 cases of the novel coronavirus in Delaware, with 182 fatalities.

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Pay freeze at UD, as top leaders take pay cuts

The University of Delaware is freezing base salaries for many employees, and top administrators, including president Dennis Assanis and football coach Danny Rocco, are taking pay cuts, the school announced Monday.

The state’s Newark-based flagship university “does not have an overall savings number to share,’’ spokesman Andrea Boyle told WHYY.

Assanis disclosed the decisions in a letter to employees, saying the “cost containment measures” for the fiscal year starting July 1 would result in “the ultimate, long-term benefit of our community and the advancement of our academic mission.”

University of Delaware president Dennis Assanis will take a 10 percent pay cut. His total compensation was $965,000 two years ago, school tax filings show. (University of Delaware)

His letter added that “cost mitigation is not just about reduction, but also preservation. To this end, we want to ensure that we are exhausting all possibilities to protect our workforce.”

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The freeze doesn’t automatically pertain to all 4,700 employees, Assanis wrote.

“Exceptions will be made for faculty and staff promotions that have already been approved,” Assanis wrote.

In addition, his letter said school officials are in discussions with unions that represent some workers about “how to deal with contractually mandated raises covered under collective bargaining agreements.”

Boyle said the unions include the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Voluntarily taking 10% cuts will be Assanis, provost Robin Morgan and executive vice president John Long, the president wrote.

Assanis was paid $965,160 in salary and other compensation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, according to the school’s most recent tax filing, provided to WHYY by Boyle.

Taking voluntary 5% cuts will be all members of UD’s senior leadership team, including all vice presidents, deans, chief of police, athletic director and the head football and basketball coaches.

University of Delaware football coach Danny Rocco will take a 5% pay cut. His total compensation was $609,197 two years ago — second highest at the university. (University of Delaware)

Football coach Rocco’s compensation for the 2018 fiscal year year was $609,197, the second highest reported by the school.

The school’s total revenue that year was $1.31 billion and it paid $651.2 million in salaries, other compensation and benefits, the tax records show.

The Newark-based school is also establishing the Blue Hen Strong Fund and COVID-19 Employee Emergency Relief Fund to assist students and employees in need, Assanis wrote.

Shining a blue light for essential employees

Delaware tourist and entertainment venues are bathing themselves in blue light tonight at 7 p.m. to honor the state’s healthcare workers, first responders and other essential employees.

Tourism officials are encouraging facilities to post their photos on social media and use the hashtag #ThanksDE

“From healthcare workers to the police officers, firefighters, EMTs, grocery store workers and transit drivers, these folks have stepped up to protect and provide for the rest of us during a challenging time,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. Carney called the effort “a small but fitting tribute to them.”

Participating locations include Wilmington’s Grand Opera House, the Rehoboth Beach bandstand and the Miles the Monster statue at Dover International Speedway.

Wilmington leaders host virtual town hall Wednesday

Wilmington’s top political officials will host a virtual town hall Wednesday night to discuss community needs and how the city is trying to meet them during the coronavirus crisis.

The participants are Mayor Mike Purzycki, City Council President Hanifa Shabazz, Councilman Chris Johnson, Haneef Salaam of the Wilmington HOPE Commission and Rita Landgraf, former secretary of the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The city is working on its response to COVID-19  with a consortium of more than 20 community groups through the Wilmington Community Advisory Committee.

The 4:30 p.m. meeting will be streamed at and Questions and comments can be sent before the meeting to

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