Dear Faculty and Staff,
We have never experienced anything remotely akin to the COVID-19 pandemic. The greatest toll, of course, is the thousands of people who have died and hundreds of thousands more who have been infected by the disease. Hour by hour, we also are seeing the financial impact the pandemic is having on businesses and institutions, including UWM and other colleges and universities. Today, I write to share an update on how the pandemic is affecting our financial situation at UWM. The impacts include:
- Lost revenue from operations that have been closed. Without open facilities, we can’t provide catering, dining, recreation, community engagement activities and other services.
- Providing pro-rated refunds for parking permits, University Housing and dining operations budget.
- Costs associated with providing COVID-19 leave. This is the right thing to do, but it was an unplanned expense.
As a result of these unexpected developments, I am announcing several measures to help mitigate the financial impact the pandemic is having on our campus:
Cancellation of VSIP
Earlier this month I shared our plans to move forward with a limited voluntary separation incentive payments (VSIP) plan. The VSIP was being offered as a tool to address anticipated FY21 budget reductions. Due to the unexpected and extreme impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our budget, we are canceling the VSIP program. We do not currently anticipate a restoration of the VSIP at a future date.
We are putting into place a temporary hiring freeze, effective today. Limited exceptions will be allowed and should be forwarded through deans and division heads. All exceptions will be subject to approval from Provost Johannes Britz and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen.
Effective immediately, compensation adjustments for our employees, other than due to promotions, will be on hold, with very limited exceptions that will be subject to the same approval used for hires.
Safety of our People
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Wisconsin, and in Milwaukee County in particular, the health and safety of all our employees are paramount. For the safety of us all and our families, we are undertaking efforts to significantly reduce the number of individuals working onsite. Deans and division heads will receive guidance and details on this later today. Employees should talk directly with their supervisors about options before coming to campus.
These are exceedingly difficult times that we are facing together. It is understandable that people are concerned, frightened and discouraged by the financial impact of COVID-19. Yet, we are needed now more than ever. It is important for us to activate our resilience as we reflect on the power of what we do – and will continue to do – to advance our students and communities.