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A University of Montana group studying whether the Missoula campus should move toward a four-day work week is hosting a series of public forums, the first on Friday, to solicit feedback from the campus community.

UM proposed looking at a four-day work week as one of many proposed ways to cut back spending.

The two chairs of the committee are hosting three open forums to listen to public feedback on the matter.

The plan, as proposed, means UM would operate Tuesday through Friday. Faculty and staff would work four, 10-hour days. No one's pay would be cut as a result of the proposal, a common misperception when President George Dennison first announced the idea back in January. The proposal would save the university approximately $450,000 in utility costs.

A task force was appointed to study the proposal, its effects, gather public feedback and empirical data and present the information to UM administrators.

The task force is about four weeks into this process. The group has contacted 16 colleges and universities nationwide who have moved to a shortened work week. UM wants to find out their motivation for moving to a shortened work week and the benefits of doing so.

UM facility services is in the process of tracking energy use in campus buildings to determine cost savings, said Chris Comer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the task force.

Also, UM officials are determining whether there are classrooms to accommodate a four-day work week, he said. The task force also has scheduled meetings to talk to the unions on campus.

The group intends to release any information as it becomes available, Comer said. Right now, there's not much to report, he said.

The first open forum is scheduled for Friday from 11 a.m.-noon in the University Center Theater.

The others are scheduled for Thursday, April 8 from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. at the University Center Theater and Friday, April 9, from noon-1 p.m. at the UM-Missoula College of Technology. The public is encouraged to attend.

Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at chelsi.moy@missoulian.com.

 

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