The COVID-19 virus has deeply impacted the University of Michigan-Flint. We find ourselves in an unprecedented chapter in the University’s history. We cannot predict when the new normal will arrive, and what changes will evolve as a result of the ongoing pandemic. However, the actions we take now will ensure that UM-Flint is positioned for success.
President Schlissel’s message earlier today to all three campuses describes the challenges U-M faces due to this pandemic. We are writing to you to contextualize and expand upon his message and make explicit how UM-Flint will operate under this guidance.
Enrollment declines for several years have reduced revenue at UM-Flint. COVID-19 adds further uncertainty to next year's enrollment projections as well as state appropriations. Therefore, it is imperative that we reduce the University’s overall spending to the maximum extent possible. The following actions are being implemented immediately.
Non-essential spending. Until further notice, spending in the following categories will stop:
- External consulting
- Marketing and advertising
- Printing that is outsourced and not from UM-Flint Printing Services
- Travel and conferences
- Hosting, food, and beverages
- Events and event tickets
- Prizes, gifts and awards
- Supplies from all categories
- Equipment, furniture and remodeling
Shipping to non-university addresses from Marketsite is also ending. Monthly spending limits on all PCards is being reduced to $2,000 or left at the current limit if already below $2,000. PCard expense reports will be reviewed for spending on items outlined above. There will be exceptions, but will require pre-approval of the appropriate Dean, Vice Chancellor or Chancellor.
Salary reductions. To help combat the financial impact of this crisis, the leadership of UM-Flint will take voluntary salary reductions through the end of the year, and with no merit salary increases. During May - December 2020, I will take a 10% salary reduction. All Vice Chancellors and deans have also agreed to take a 5% salary reduction for the same period.
Hiring freeze. All new searches for faculty and staff hiring at UM-Flint are being frozen. For any position considered critical, exceptions will have to be approved by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance. Temporary student positions including work study may continue on a limited basis, but must receive the same prior approval.
No salary program. Except for faculty and staff promotions already approved and contractual adjustments prescribed by collective bargaining agreements, there will not be any increases to UM-Flint employees’ base salary for the next fiscal year. We are deeply sorry, and we greatly appreciate your understanding of this decision.
Voluntary employee furlough. The voluntary employee furlough outlined in President Schlissel’s message also applies to UM-Flint.
Two voluntary programs for regular staff in non-critical operations are options to consider. With unit approval, staff may temporarily leave their position (unpaid furlough) during the COVID-19 pandemic or temporarily reduce their work hours. In both cases, employees would be able to return to their regular positions and hours at the end of the approved period, which can range from 60 to 120 days.
More details on the voluntary furlough and reduced hours programs are available here. Please contact your supervisor or University Human Resources if you want to participate in the program.
Campus construction projects. In accordance with Governor Whitmer’s directive, contractors have paused construction on campus. We will reevaluate with our colleagues in Ann Arbor when to resume projects already under construction such as the Murchie Science Building, as well as the replacement of the Riverfront Banquet Center walls, and the renovations at the William S. White Building.
Facing the Challenges Ahead
These are grim realities, but they must be faced with the resolve required of all of us at this time. In doing so, we can rise to meet new opportunities that can enhance and grow our campus and community. There is not a moment to waste.
As we limit our expenses, let us not limit our imagination and creativity. With determination, innovation, and collaboration we will develop plans for new sources of revenue. Now is the time to develop plans for new programs that have student demand, for short courses and certificates, and to expand online teaching. The pandemic has made clear that UM-Flint’s strong online infrastructure and experience is an advantage we can further exploit. We will strive to find new target audiences here in Michigan and across the country through the development and implementation of a robust portfolio of programs. It is an attainable goal and one that we can launch immediately.
This is a new phase for the campus. Ensuring the future of UM-Flint will require us coming together as a community, to think deeply about reducing costs and developing new and sustainable revenue sources. To that end, we are engaging with various groups across the three campuses of the University, preparing and planning for multiple scenarios that may overlay the current pandemic situation. Within our own units, both academic and administrative, we must embark on similar preparations, with plans for the possibility of further cost reductions, but also using inventiveness to seize new opportunities that can generate revenue. Every idea should be fully examined as we search for solutions in the months ahead.
Please feel free to share your ideas with us, but also share them with your department, school/college and office leadership. Your input is valued. The next academic year will be upon us sooner than we think. We must be ready.
Our campus community is equal to this challenge. Thank you for all you are doing for the University of Michigan-Flint.
With gratitude and in good health,