May 19, 2020
Dear UT Faculty and Staff,
Since March, the university has been adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis, which has touched every aspect of our learning, research and operations. Our community has done an outstanding job of weathering the storm and making the best of this unprecedented challenge, due in large part to your dedication, resilience and leadership. We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done, and we hope that the end of the semester provides you with time to pause and reflect upon our shared journey during the past several months.
The shifts we’ve been forced to make in the ways we teach and work have come with increased costs. We are also facing declines in our expected future revenues and continued uncertainty about the coming academic year. Taken together, these forces have significantly altered UT’s immediate financial outlook.
In April, we implemented a first phase of measures to address the pressure on the university’s finances. This included canceling the planned 2020-21 centrally funded merit pool and limiting new hires and large expenditures to only essential needs.
Today, we are announcing the next phase of financial mitigation measures. Revenue-generating units will now be directed to develop new financial plans with the Provost’s and CFO’s offices to contain costs where needed. Revenue-generating units fund their operations in a variety of ways, including through service charges, fees and memberships. Their budgets primarily come from providing services to paying internal or external customers.
For these units, the mitigation plans will likely include furloughs or permanent reductions in force for staff members in specific revenue-generating units where revenues have declined. Leadership in these units will be reaching out directly to their staff members with additional information should they implement these employment changes.
Also, in this next phase, the university is addressing the emergency leave policy. During the past two months, emergency leave has been extended because of the pandemic, to the benefit of many UT staff members. But the university cannot extend this leave indefinitely without having a significant financial impact.
After May 31, emergency leave will no longer be available as an option to employees without work. Federal emergency family and medical leave will still be available for other situations. Staff members without work who had been using emergency leave will be asked to review work options with their units and/or begin using their own paid-leave accruals.
These are very difficult steps for everyone affected, and we understand your concern as you wait for specific information about decisions in your units, but they are necessary given the impact of COVID-19 on the university’s financial situation. As we move forward, we will closely monitor all institutional revenue sources and, in the weeks and months ahead, probably have to make other difficult employment decisions in order to mitigate any budget shortfalls that should arise.
The University of Texas has been through hard times before, and we’ve always come through them with a strengthened sense of purpose and a dedication to our world-changing mission. We have no doubt that this will be the case with COVID-19, and we thank you for your understanding and commitment.
Gregory L. Fenves
Interim President Designate