We have been extraordinarily proud of our community as we have confronted these challenges together. It hasn’t been easy. But in every situation and at every moment, despite challenges at work and at home, you have risen to the occasion.
Today we are writing about the impact this crisis is having–and will continue to have–on the university’s finances. As you might expect, the news is not good, but we think it is important that we’re transparent about our circumstances as we collectively work to meet these challenges and sustain our great university.
It will come as no surprise that higher education is suffering from the economic slowdown affecting the rest of the economy. Specifically, we face significant shortfalls in all major revenue sources–tuition, room and board, research and clinical operations, endowment income, and fundraising. In addition, we will likely face increased expenses such as healthcare and, in particular, financial aid due to our unwavering commitment to meeting the full need of our admitted and enrolled undergraduate students.
Of course, much uncertainty remains and the level of impact on our budget depends on when the university is able to return to full operations. We already estimate that the financial impact in the current fiscal year will be more than $15 million, and depending on timing, could exceed $50 million next year. Other universities and colleges are experiencing similar impacts and projections proportional to their size.
We are modeling a wide range of scenarios for the near and medium term and formulating the necessary plans for each. As we consider the actions necessary to mitigate the financial impact of this crisis, we are keeping several priorities foremost in our planning.
Education of our students
We must ensure that we preserve the high-quality education that we provide our students. We have a well-deserved reputation for being among the finest and most academically rigorous universities in America. Our students excel in classrooms, labs, clinics, and studios, and on stages and athletic fields. We have an obligation to provide them with the highest levels of instruction, co- and extracurricular opportunities, and support to ensure success in their chosen endeavors.
Care for faculty and staff
Recognizing the key role you play in keeping this university great, we pledge to you that everything possible will be done to minimize negative impacts. At this time, we cannot make promises or predictions about what decisions we will face moving forward. But we can pledge to you that when there are challenging decisions to be made, we will make them in as open and equitable a manner as possible.
Ensure the long-term health of the university
As we consider how to navigate these difficult waters, we must be mindful that we are stewards of a great institution. We inherited this university from generations of wise leaders and committed Tufts faculty, staff, and alumni; and we must ensure that the light on the hill shines brightly for those who follow us. This means we must make prudent decisions to ensure we remain a university that is academically and financially strong and well positioned to continue to make a positive contribution to the world through our educational, research, clinical, and civic life mission.
With these priorities in mind, today we are announcing several immediate steps to begin to address the budget deficits brought on by this crisis.
We will implement an immediate moratorium on new faculty and staff hiring including Tufts and agency temporary staff. Externally funded positions are exempt from this moratorium. Exceptions to this, which will be rare, must be approved by senior university leaders.
We will enact a wage and salary freeze for all faculty and staff, except as provided for by contract. This includes a freeze on otherwise scheduled merit cycle increases and market adjustments. This does not include salary changes related to any approved faculty and staff promotions.
Effective immediately, we will be suspending all new discretionary spending, including, for example, travel, food, conferences, furniture, and non-essential facilities spending. Spending to maintain essential university operations will continue.
All planned capital projects will be put on hold indefinitely. Current projects in advanced stages of construction, such as the Cummings Center, will continue when permitted by government authorities.
In addition to these specific steps, we will be working collaboratively with schools and divisions over the coming weeks to finalize various scenarios and plan ways to address shortfalls while maintaining the strength of our core programs.
With so many uncertainties, we cannot promise that these measures will be enough to address our budget shortfall. Undoubtedly, there will be difficult times ahead. Navigating them will require hard work and solidarity. As daunting as that might sound, we are heartened to have you at our side; we remain confident that, working together as we always have, we will emerge a stronger, better, and more resilient university.
We know you likely have questions about what may lie ahead, and we’d like to invite you to join us for a virtual town hall for faculty and staff across the university this Friday, April 17, at 1 p.m. Details on the town hall are below, including a link to register and submit questions for us in advance. We look forward to seeing you there.
With best wishes for good health to you and your loved ones,
Provost and Senior Vice President
Executive Vice President
University-wide Virtual Town Hall for Faculty and Staff Friday, April 17, 2020 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
A registration link for the virtual town hall was included in the original e-mail message sent faculty and staff on April 14, 2020.