Baylor Faculty and Staff:
As we continue on this journey together forced upon us by the coronavirus (COVID-19), I continue to be impressed by the creativity, dedication and resilience of all of you. We have asked you to do the extraordinary for Baylor University over the past few weeks – all the while balancing family, church and community obligations during these unprecedented times. It is truly heartbreaking to watch and read about the pain, suffering and anxiety that has overtaken people and businesses in countries worldwide, cities across the United States, and now our Waco.
As you might expect, COVID-19 has created much uncertainty within the University as our on-campus services are limited, students are "in class" away from campus, faculty embrace online course delivery and staff serve via teleworking arrangements. But please know that our commitment to the health and well-being of our campus community remains unchanged – and a top priority during these challenging times.
One area of critical importance for the University at this time, however, is the continuity of our business operations, particularly as we finish the current fiscal year on May 31 and plan budgets for Fiscal Year 2020-21. Our business operations are the foundation that supports our academic mission. Yet due to the widespread impact of COVID-19, we are currently faced with many financial unknowns related to future enrollment, on-campus services, philanthropy and the broader economic impact not only on our country, but specifically on our Baylor families. To put it simply, the economic forecast is unpredictable at best.
Our President's Council has adopted three immediate actions to assist the University financially and mitigate these unknowns as we prepare for the next few months and into the next fiscal year:
- Identify measures to slow the University's rate of spending through the end of FY19-20, to include carefully evaluating open as well as future positions and analyzing operating budget expenditures that may no longer be necessary. In other words, we need to "flatten the curve" related to current expenditures.
- Prepare for a challenging budgeting process for FY20-21, with guidance to come from the University in the near future.
- Postpone a decision on faculty and staff merit increases for FY20-21 until January. We will assess financial conditions related to this action on an ongoing basis.
These are certainly difficult decisions for the University, particularly as we understand the many challenges many of you are facing in your personal lives. However, as good stewards of the funds entrusted to us by students, families, donors and other partners, we have a fiduciary responsibility to closely examine and carefully manage our finances during these uncertain times. We must be prudent now, while also preparing strategically for a wide range of scenarios that could adversely impact the University in the future.
Before I outline specifics related to the decision on merit increases, let me assure you that the aspirations and principles outlined in Illuminate will continue, as this strategic plan is critical to the long-term success of Baylor. The fact that "The world needs a Baylor" rings truer today than it ever has.
We ask that you please pay attention to the following:
- We will not be moving forward with merit increases for faculty and staff as of August 1. However, the University will continue to assess the financial situation and communicate with you as conditions evolve. If you have any questions, we ask that you first please reach out to your chair, manager or HR consultant.
- Faculty will continue to receive new academic year contracts as of April 1 at their current rate of pay.
- Any faculty promotions previously approved by Baylor and the associated compensation increases will be honored.
- All aspects of signed Faculty Retirement Planning Agreements will be honored.
- CAPTRUST provides independent financial advice for your Baylor Retirement Plan at no cost to you. Please contact CAPTRUST at 800-967-9948 or visit them at www.captrustadvice.com to schedule an appointment with a Participant Advisory Services (PAS) representative or to find additional information.
I hope you understand that these are indeed unprecedented times for our country, higher education and Baylor University. Our aim is to address these uncertain times proactively and head-on so we can ensure Baylor's bright future for generations to come. Thank you for your unwavering commitment and support in response to COVID-19, as well as for your continued dedication to our great University.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.