"Executive Vice President Hof Milam" Archive

Update to On-Campus Mask Policy and Fall Semester

Dear Wake Forest community,

As the first day of classes for the majority of campus nears, we write to share both our enthusiasm for the start of this semester and a few important updates to our COVID-19 response. We will be fully in-person and operating all aspects of the University with the trademark dedication to our mission. The adjustments we will share below reflect our commitment to that end and to ensuring a successful start to the year.

As a residential community founded on the teacher-scholar model, we thrive on meaningful connection with one another animated by close collaboration among students, faculty and staff — collaboration that is at its best when it is in person. Our high vaccination rate among faculty, staff and students is the most important step for returning to and maintaining normal operations during the fall semester. While our position is strong, the most recent information regarding transmission of the Delta variant requires some temporary modifications.

Indoor masks to begin the semester

We will start the semester with all of us, regardless of vaccination status, wearing a mask indoors, with exceptions that are defined below. We anticipate this will be a temporary measure to allow for a smooth transition back to the classroom and campus environment. We will evaluate this decision weekly and make adjustments accordingly. Beginning Monday, August 16, masks are required indoors except while actively eating and drinking and with the following exceptions: Read more

Joint faculty/staff forum re: university operating status

A message from Provost Rogan Kersh and Executive Vice President Hof Milam to faculty and staff:

As you know, we are making a deliberate and incremental shift to “Orange” status on campus, on the considered advice of our public health experts and academic/administrative leaders. To provide further health and safety details we will hold an all-faculty/staff forum tomorrow, Friday, October 23, from 4 – 5 p.m.

Please join if you are able. As with past faculty and staff forums, this forum will require participants to join using their Wake Forest Zoom account to increase security. Zoom information was emailed to faculty and staff today.

Many thanks for your continued extraordinary efforts to keep our students and one another safe during this most surreal of semesters.

Rogan Kersh
Provost

Hof Milam
Executive Vice President

CARES Act information for faculty and staff

This message was emailed May 5 on behalf of Provost Rogan Kersh and Executive Vice President Hof Milam by Wake Forest Communications and External Relations:

Dear Wake Forest faculty and staff,

Over the past two months, so many have worked so hard to sustain and advance the mission of Wake Forest. Thanks also for your efforts to adhere to social distancing practices; the overall health of our community is something for which we can all be grateful. To date, very few cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported among faculty, staff and students. Protecting the health of our community took unprecedented yet necessary steps, and it will take the same degree of commitment to preserve the fiscal health of Wake Forest.

As predicted, revenue losses have mounted, and we are actively managing our budget and finances accordingly. Significant steps have already been taken, including pausing hiring and constraining spending, and we are grateful to each of you for your compliance with those measures. We have now completed the process of issuing pro rata housing and dining refunds of nearly $10 million to our undergraduate students. We were grateful that more than $200,000 of those refunds was returned as a donation to the Wake Forest Crisis Response Fund. However, more steps are needed, and we remain vigilant in looking for ways we can improve our fiscal integrity.

In our April 8 message about the financial situation facing the University, we noted that a team was researching the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest federal relief legislation in history, allocating more than $2 trillion to help people and organizations overcome the pandemic’s short-term financial impact. The CARES Act provides federal funding to help support student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations, and to offset specified revenue losses. Additionally, the CARES Act provides two programs of support that can help Wake Forest and our employees who, because of the pandemic, are unable to work remotely or who are working fewer hours: voluntary furloughs and payroll tax credits. Each of these programs is potentially beneficial to both the University as a whole and those individuals who qualify for them; employees of all types and job classifications are eligible. Based upon the nature of the work performed by employees within each unit, implementation options are available to each dean and vice president. Deans and vice presidents will share details about how voluntary furloughs and payroll tax credits will be implemented in each school or division, with consideration for the unique circumstances of each unit across our campus.

Voluntary Furloughs

The CARES Act provides eligible employees who, due to the nature of their work, are not able to work right now, $600 per week, supplementing the up to $350 per week unemployment benefit from the state of North Carolina. Our employees who make less than $49,400 per year may qualify to receive up to $950 per week in combined unemployment benefits through July 25, which is more than their current Wake Forest pay rate. Furloughs may also be structured in a way that does not diminish income for employees who make more than $49,400.

The furlough must be an official leave without pay from Wake Forest in order to qualify for CARES Act funds. However, participation in the health care plan will be sustained at the University’s expense through the period of furlough, and employees will receive credit for a continuation of service, meaning there will be no impact on PTO accrual, time in service or tuition remission status due to the furlough.

Payroll Tax Credits

Additionally, the CARES Act provides relief to organizations that continue to pay employees who may be working fewer hours because of the pandemic. Wake Forest could be eligible to receive up to a $5,000 tax credit payment for each employee in this status. Each vice president and dean has been asked to explore the possibilities for individuals to go on “COVID-19 Leave with Pay” between now and December 31 for reduced work schedules.

Voluntary furloughs and payroll tax credits are two of the many steps the University is taking to preserve the fiscal health of Wake Forest. Deans and vice presidents will seek implementation options that maximize the potential benefits for the schools and units within their area of responsibility, eligible individuals, and the University.

We are deeply grateful for everything you are doing to sustain our financial integrity, culture and values through these trying times. We very much look forward to the day when we can resume normal activities on campus. Until then, we wish good health and safety to you and your families.

Sincerely,

Rogan Kersh
Provost

Hof Milam
Executive Vice President

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

Distance-working arrangement effective immediately

The following message was sent on behalf of Executive Vice President Hof Milam and Provost Rogan Kersh this morning.

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper announced that all K-12 public schools in North Carolina will close for an undetermined time period, beginning tomorrow (Monday, March 16). Wake Forest has actively been preparing for this situation and will immediately move to a distance-working arrangement for all colleagues whose work can be performed remotely.

Employees needed on campus to perform essential services will be contacted by their supervisors. Such essential employees are designated by the relevant vice president or dean, and individuals will be communicated with regarding their situation as decisions are made. Decisions regarding essential staff are subject to change as circumstances evolve. These colleagues will follow staggered schedules and workplace arrangements that promote appropriate social distancing, and they should discuss child care needs with their department.

All employees who are not designated to perform essential services, and whose work can be performed remotely, should work from home.

Employees who are not designated to provide essential services, and whose work cannot be performed remotely, should nonetheless remain at home. However, such employees may be asked to temporarily perform new duties, which may include essential services. Supervisors of these employees should contact staff members to confirm work expectations.

If you are uncertain about whether to report to campus, or if you are unable to work remotely effectively, discuss your individual circumstances with your unit head (e.g., department chair, dean, director, vice president).

While forms are customarily required to initiate remote work, they are being waived during these unprecedented circumstances. Staff who work on-site to provide essential services and those who can work remotely should continue to record their work time as usual. If a staff member is not providing essential services on-site and cannot work remotely, Wake Forest will keep the individual in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

In the coming week, our top priority will be supporting our faculty as they prepare to deliver courses remotely starting March 23. Deans are aligning various University resources to meet this need while practicing social distancing. Faculty, working with their dean’s office, should make arrangements that best enable them to meet their needs for preparing their courses for remote instruction.

Colleagues should follow the guidelines outlined on Information Systems’ IT Resources for Working and Teaching Remotely webpage and coordinate plans with their unit head (e.g., department chair, dean, director, vice president) or manager. Additionally, the “Keep Teaching” website is a valuable resource for faculty.

Expectations for all employees, whether essential and on campus or working remotely, are to maintain normal University working hours. Exceptions can be made by the appropriate vice president or dean.

The University remains open as there will be students who live off campus or have been approved to remain in campus housing accessing campus facilities. As such, core facilities will remain open but hours and access could be limited. Check the coronavirus website for more details.

We anticipate that circumstances will continue to change over the coming weeks, and we will need to make further decisions as conditions evolve. These arrangements will continue until further notice. Official policy concerning announcements in this message and additional information will be forthcoming on the Human Resources coronavirus webpage. We continue to support Wake Forest families and promote the health and safety of the University community. Thank you for your flexibility, patience and support.

Regards,

Hof Milam
Executive Vice President

Rogan Kersh
Provost

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