Continuity of Operations and Budget Outlook

April 20, 2020

I would like to review a few points from President Schlissel’s recent all-campus communication and specifically discuss what it means for the Dearborn campus. 

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to review a few points from President Schlissel’s recent all-campus communication and specifically discuss what it means for the Dearborn campus. 

As President Schlissel shared, the pandemic has adversely affected all members of the University of Michigan family. We at UM-Dearborn support strongly the guiding principles outlined in his letter. He described an organization-wide plan his leadership team, of which I am a member, is implementing to address the ongoing financial challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Along with the strategies outlined by President Schlissel, University of Michigan-Dearborn leadership has put into place the following FY20 measures to mitigate financial risk during the remainder of this fiscal year: 

  • Freezing of all reserve funds in the colleges and units for exigent senior leadership discretionary deployment.
  • Reassignment of staff to facilitate highest priority campus needs and to support pay continuity. 
  • Stoppage of all non-essential projects unrelated to health, life and safety. 
  • Reducing spend on utilities, general supplies, vendor services and other non-critical expenses. 

These measures will stay in place through the fiscal year 2021 (FY21). The leadership team is updating our budget plan for next year with the clear understanding that, without prophylaxis, therapeutics, or wide-spread testing, the pandemic might last into the summer months of 2021 and beyond. In addition to the budget-saving initiatives outlined in the president’s message, the following FY21 measures are being considered for our campus to help mitigate financial risk: 

  • Require colleges and units to allocate one percent of their budgets for redistribution (or keeping as an insurance reserve), as determined by senior leadership. 
  • Voluntary salary reductions for senior leadership. I have volunteered to reduce my salary by ten percent, all of the senior officers and others on the UM-Dearborn leadership team have also volunteered to join me and reduce their salaries by five percent. This reduction is effective May 1 through the end of the calendar year. 
  • Review all existing projects (capital and non-capital) and deferred maintenance plans to conserve and otherwise deploy resources effectively. No new capital projects will be initiated.
  • Review our non-compensation contracts with a view for reductions, including third party leases and consultancies.  
  • Continue developing a robust strategic enrollment management plan to maximize enrollment.
  • Update our preliminary FY21 budget, for submission to the Regents, with the following measures: 
    • Implementing pricing and financial aid strategies to better support enrollment and student success. 
    • Developing scenarios for enrollment financial impacts over the next three weeks during registration. 
    • Carefully assessing the application of CARES award to support continued operations and student enrollment and success. 

The health and safety of our students and employees remains paramount in our planning and decision making. As I am sure you are aware, our campus is located in Wayne County, the epicenter of the outbreak in Michigan and one of the most affected regions in the nation. When public health parameters indicate an appropriate abatement of infection, in coordination with President Schlissel, we will initiate a reopening of campus. Minimizing risk, we will begin with employees who can return safely within prescribed guidelines. 

This is a fluid situation, and we will keep you updated as the state provides guidance and circumstances evolve.

I take great pride in how valiantly our university has taken on the challenges presented by the pandemic. Resolve and perseverance and steady optimism are part of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s DNA. In keeping with our core mission, I believe we have served our students admirably during this pandemic and I have every confidence that we will continue to do so.   

Thank you for everything you do for our university. 

Stay safe and healthy!

Forever Go Blue and Go Dearborn!

Domenico Grasso

External Relations

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