Next steps toward addressing the impact of the pandemic
(Editor's Note: The original version of this message incorrectly described a university savings amount of $853,000. On April 29, that amount was corrected to $573,500. We apologize for the mistake in the original message.)
Thank you for your hard work and perseverance this semester. Amid unprecedented circumstances, you have risen to the occasion to make our community safer and enable the University of Kansas to continue its mission of education, service and research — albeit in a previously unthinkable remote environment. While the days ahead will not be easy, your efforts will enable us to weather this storm and emerge a stronger institution.
In recent weeks, Provost Bichelmeyer, Dr. Simari and I have communicated with you regularly, and we have appreciated your feedback and guidance. Today, I write to share additional updates about KU’s situation and the challenges we face.
Before addressing our specific circumstances, it’s important to recognize the broader context of uncertainty in which we are operating. The reality is, there are still a number of unknowns that prevent us from having a full picture of the pandemic’s financial impact on our university. Key among the unknowns are the following:
- State funding: Earlier this spring, lawmakers passed a Fiscal Year 2021 budget that includes a small increase for higher education. However, last week, officials announced a projected 8.1 percent shortfall in that budget due to declining revenue projections, creating uncertainty as to whether that budget will hold. Additionally, it is possible lawmakers could enact cuts to the current fiscal year budget.
- Federal funding: In response to the pandemic, Congress has passed various stimulus bills, including the CARES Act, which provides support for university operations and students in need. We continue to work with lawmakers and higher education colleagues to determine whether additional funding will be available.
- Enrollment: With the pandemic affecting students and families across the country, enrollment will certainly be impacted. Prospective students and current students who are now facing financial hardship may elect not to enroll or reenroll, and international students or those from out of state may prefer the security and safety of remaining closer to home. We likely won’t have a clearer picture of the impact until later in the spring or summer.
- Tuition: KU is currently working to determine tuition rates for the upcoming year. Challenging under normal circumstances, this year the process is complicated further by uncertainty in state funding and enrollment, as well as the hardships being faced by students and families.
- Pandemic duration: Perhaps most importantly, we don’t know how much longer this crisis will last, or when we can return to on-campus operations.
Though these factors are still developing, our initial losses undoubtedly will be in the tens of millions of dollars. Since the earliest days of the crisis, several teams – comprising senior administrators, working groups, faculty and staff representatives, and others – have been working to address operational challenges, plan for various scenarios, and analyze our financial shortfall. While it’s still too early to know the full impact of the pandemic, it is clear KU will need to adopt new business models, reorganize and restructure to be more efficient, and implement long-term reductions to address the financial aftermath of COVID-19.
Many of you have asked about furloughs, layoffs, and salary reductions, some of which are being implemented at other universities. Again, recognizing we don’t have a full picture of our situation, we don’t know the extent to which these personnel actions will be needed, if at all, at KU. At this point, all options must be considered for KU to manage through this crisis. We remain committed to protecting our people - particularly our most vulnerable populations - to the greatest extent possible.
The next step toward addressing our financial challenge is a 10 percent cut to the salaries of nearly 40 university leaders, effective this week, for a period of six months, to be reassessed thereafter. This will generate $573,500 in payroll savings that we will redeploy to urgent needs. Additionally, three Kansas Athletics leaders will incur the same percentage cut, generating $500,000 to help the athletics department manage budget challenges. In addition to addressing budget needs, these salary reductions are consistent with the sentiment of shared sacrifice that will benefit KU and society in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, please know that Provost Bichelmeyer, Dr. Simari and I will continue communicating with you, and we will seek your input every step of the way. We will be in touch soon with additional information about our fiscal recovery and our efforts to determine plans for the fall semester.
Again, thank you. I am confident KU will weather this storm, and I am grateful for your dedication to our university.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas
KU LEADERS INCURRING 10 PERCENT SALARY REDUCTION
Lawrence and Edwards Leaders (including Chancellor’s Cabinet, Vice Provosts, School Deans)
- Ann Brill, Dean of Journalism
- Arvin Agah, Dean of Engineering
- Barbara Bichelmeyer, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
- Brian White, General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs
- Chris Brown, Vice Provost for Faculty Development
- Dave Cook, Incoming Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
- Diane Goddard, Chief Financial Officer
- Douglas A Girod, Chancellor
- Jennifer Ng, Interim Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Jennifer Roberts, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
- John Colombo, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Julie Murray, Chief of Staff for the Chancellor
- Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries
- Linda Luckey, Chief of Staff for the Provost
- Mahbub Rashid, Interim Dean of Architecture and Design
- Mary Walsh, Chief Information Officer
- Matt Melvin, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management
- Michelle Mohr Carney, Dean of Social Welfare
- Mike Rounds, Vice Provost for Operations
- Paige Fields, Dean of Business
- Rick Ginsberg, Dean of Education
- Robert Walzel, Dean of Music
- Ronald Ragan, Dean of Pharmacy
- Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
- Stephen Mazza, Dean of Law
- Susan Klusmeier, Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
- Tammara Durham, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
KU Medical Center (Including Senior Leadership and School Deans)
- Abiodun Akinwuntan, Dean of Health Professions
- Akinlolu Oluseun Ojo, Executive Dean of Medicine
- David Vranicar, Vice Chancellor for Finance & CFO
- Garold Minns, Dean of Medicine, Wichita Campus
- Jerrihlyn McGee, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- Robert Klein, Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs
- Robert Moser, Dean of Medicine, Salina Campus
- Robert Simari, Executive Vice Chancellor
- Ryan Spaulding, Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement
- Sally Maliski, Dean of Nursing
- Steffani Webb, Vice Chancellor for Administration
- Steve Stites, Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs
Kansas Athletics Leaders
- Bill Self, Men’s Head Basketball Coach
- Jeff Long, Director
- Les Miles, Head Football Coach