NEW BRUNSWICK — New Jersey's largest public university is freezing tuition, slashing spending and cutting top executive salaries as it expects to lose $200 million in three months.

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi announced the budget measures on Friday, blaming the pandemic.

“Although much remains to be determined about the coming budget year, one thing is certain—we cannot and will not close this gap on the backs of our students and their families," Barchi said in a written statement. "To that end, I am making this commitment today: we will recommend to the Board of Governors a 2021 budget that freezes undergraduate tuition and fees at their current levels."

In addition to the tuition freeze, the university will end hiring, stop awarding non-contractual or out-of-cycle pay increases, ban travel, pause all construction projects, freeze discretionary spending and dip into rainy-day funds.

Barchi, saying that "leadership starts at the top," also will take a 10% pay cut while a hundred other senior leaders will lose 5% of their salaries over the next four months. Rutgers Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs and the head coaches for football and men’s and women’s’ basketball — among the highest paid public workers in the state by far —will also take a 10% cut in pay over four months.

Colleges and universities have had to end on-campus instruction during the pandemic shutdown orders and refund room and board fees to students who had been living on campus.

The budget slashing is indicative of what many businesses and government agencies have had to do.

New Jersey was among the states that had asked Congress for a $500 billion bailout in order to ward off massive public-sector layoffs.

Gov. Phil Murphy this week blasted U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for suggesting that states be allowed to go bankrupt.

“We will just cut, cut, cut and cut,” Murphy said Wednesday. “We won’t go bankrupt, senator. But we will leave our citizens in the lurch. At their most profound hour of need, we will leave people on the beach, alone, helpless."

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