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Preparing for What’s Next

Dear faculty and staff,

Over the past month, I have been inspired by your incredible work to support our students and one another. It has been hard, and your commitment through the difficulty is clear. My leadership team and I are committed to keeping our employees and our students at the forefront and to keeping you informed.

While many of us crave certainty, the truth is that there are many things we still don’t know. That makes planning for our future all the more important, so we can respond quickly to the changing dynamics of our world in the age of COVID-19. I am announcing initiatives in two areas to help us move forward and plan for fall semester.

Fiscal Management

Over the past week, we have refunded nearly $16 million in fees, and the long-term budget implications of this pandemic are still unfolding. We estimate that the total costs for spring will be between $25 million and $30 million. Thanks to many years of sound financial management, we are well prepared to lead through this. It is in the best interest of our campus community to manage our budget carefully going forward, given the uncertainty that exists. Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Chris Cimino and Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid will be providing deans and human resource and budget officers with more information about the following areas:

Hiring pause. To maximize financial flexibility, all hiring except mission-critical vacancies will be paused until we have more financial certainty.

Spending limitations. We must all work hard to control spending in the last two and a half months of the fiscal year. Expenditures should be limited to only the most essential as we need to preserve cash for possible needs in the fall.

I am calling on each of you to join me in making decisions now that will benefit our campus community later.

Re-Imagining Fall

I am appointing a task force composed of campus stakeholders to help us re-imagine the fall semester. There are many decisions to be made about how and when we can safely return to campus. This is also an opportunity for us to re-imagine our campus given what we have been through. I want us to be creative in thinking about how we teach, what schedules we follow, what type of work environment we create for one another, and how we ensure student and employee success. I will be following up with more information specific to the task force’s membership and charge shortly. The task force will coordinate its work with the standing emergency management teams.

While we cannot predict the future, we will plan and prepare for it as a Volunteer community using our Volunteer principles for leading with courage:

  • Keep our community healthy and hopeful.
  • Keep students on track toward success.
  • Be creative. Be compassionate. Be flexible.

Thank you all for your continued dedication and amazing work. Please take the time to take care of yourselves, your families, and one another.

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Donde Plowman