Managing the financial impact of COVID-19

This message was sent to faculty and staff on behalf of Provost Rogan Kersh and Executive Vice President Hof Milam on April 8.

Dear Wake Forest faculty and staff,

As we face the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned a great deal. We have learned that even amid the unknown and profoundly uncertain, we are a community that bands together. We have discovered how to engage our students remotely; we have figured out how to manage our now more limited housing and dining services while practicing social distancing; and we have embraced the many ways we can continue to fulfill our mission. Amid it all, we have affirmed and honored who we are as a community, holding fast to the core of our identity and values.

We have embraced two guiding principles: Sustain our full mission of teaching/learning and research/discovery, and support the physical and financial well-being of the members of our community.

This pandemic presents an ever-changing set of circumstances for each of us to navigate personally and as a university. As we continue to respond to this still developing crisis, we must also continue to adjust thoughtfully our normal practices. Just as we have taken measures to contain the spread of the virus, emerging fiscal realities now call for decisions that enable us to carry out our mission within new financial constraints.

We are closely tracking the substantial new expenses required to manage the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Like all our higher-ed peers, we are experiencing significant losses in expected revenues with numerous refunds and cancellations of programs, as well as uncertainty about when we will resume normal operations. With that in mind, we are implementing a series of steps to address our immediate budgetary concerns. In addition, as we prepare for a still very murky future, we are pausing on previously planned increases for next year’s budget. It is our intent that by making these adjustments, we can position ourselves well for the summer and beyond. The measures outlined below are designed to accommodate all that we can reasonably forecast at this time.

Immediate Action:

Discretionary Spending
All discretionary spending is suspended immediately. This includes travel, food/meals, conferences and events, recognition banquets, consultants and other expenditures that are not critical to the operation of the University. Essential expenditures that directly support the mission of Wake Forest must be approved in writing by the provost or executive vice president.

Capital Projects
All existing and planned capital projects are suspended unless they are necessary for the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff; suspended projects will be reevaluated to determine whether they should proceed.

Pause on New Hiring
We have enacted a University-wide hiring pause on all administrative, faculty, staff and temporary positions. Any exceptions must be initiated by a vice president or dean and approved by the executive vice president and the provost.

Reduction in Executive Compensation
President Hatch and all Reynolda cabinet members and academic deans have volunteered to take a 10% salary reduction, starting immediately.

Realignment of Workforce
Between now and the end of June, there is much creative work to be done to continue and enhance remote engagement with our current and future students. As we strive to build community with and among those we serve, we may ask some employees to temporarily shift responsibilities, in order to deliver the personal nature of Wake Forest while operating largely by remote means.

Fiscal Year 2021 Planning:

Pause of Salary Increases
We will be unable to offer any salary increases for fiscal year 2021, which begins on July 1, 2020. Any arrangement that may arise or may already be in discussion will be closely evaluated and must be approved by the executive vice president or the provost.

Pause of New Hiring
We will continue a University-wide hiring pause on all administrative, faculty, staff and temporary positions. Any exceptions must be initiated by a vice president or dean and approved by the executive vice president and the provost.

Reduction of FY21 Operating Budgets
Administrative and academic leaders have been asked to review their budgets and find savings by discontinuing non-essential programs and events. These moves will help us weather the loss of revenue from on-campus programs, including summer camps that will be canceled. Our focus must be on upholding our core mission and attending to the needs of our students.

Financial Support for Faculty, Staff and Students:

Wake Forest Crisis Response Fund
We are grateful for the tremendous response from our alumni, faculty and staff in support of Wake Foresters through the Crisis Response Fund. We created this fund to enable our generous community to help alleviate the hardships on students, employees and contract employees. The Crisis Response Fund can be used to replenish existing funds, such as the Chaplain’s Emergency Fund, as they make financial awards to people in need. We have asked Beth Hoagland, assistant provost for budget and planning, to lead a committee dedicated to directing the resources we raise through this fund.

Students facing significant hardships should continue to initiate requests for support through the Financial Aid Office (financial-aid@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5154. Faculty, staff and contract employees facing great need should email Peggy Beckman in the Chaplain’s Office (beckmapp@nullwfu.edu) about their circumstances.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
One week ago, Congress passed the largest federal relief legislation in history, offering more than $2 trillion to assist people, companies and organizations overcome the short-term impact of the pandemic. We have a team of leaders working with urgency to understand and make recommendations regarding opportunities for Wake Forest employees and contract employees who are underemployed due to remote working and social distancing requirements. In addition, we are reviewing ways that the CARES Act might help Wake Forest meet its guiding principles amidst these uncertain economic times.

We convey these measures to provide you with the clearest information we have at this time, hoping you will find strength in the knowledge that we are taking every step at our disposal to manage the impact of this global crisis.

Wake Forest is strong and resilient. Our University has weathered world wars, depressions and a tumultuous move across the state. At this latest juncture in our history, our intensive planning always keeps in the forefront what has always made this institution special: its people. Our gratitude to each of you is immeasurable: Thank you for all you do for Wake Forest.

We will continue to communicate regularly with you in the days and weeks ahead. Above all else, please stay healthy and safe.

With deep appreciation,

Rogan Kersh
Provost

Hof Milam
Executive Vice President

Archives