Good morning everyone (well, afternoon, this one took some time). This update is long because I attempted to succinctly organize a lot of significant university-level budget information has come out in different venues, most recently Fr. Steve’s email yesterday that is noted below.
The Dean’s Memo for April/March is available here and was sent out at 12:03pm yesterday. It celebrates A&S community members and deliberately covers events and accomplishments NOT related to COVID-19. Take a look when you need a break from pandemic news.
Students can now apply for CARES Act Emergency relief funds. The link is available here on MySU, the box that says “Cares Act Application”. Both graduate and undergraduate students can apply. The Provost provided more details in an email at 4:16 pm Thursday. The total award amount for Seattle University and the amount that will be made available directly to students (a mandated 50%) is public information available by typing Seattle University in the search box here.
Several significant university-wide budget/planning-related announcements came out yesterday. I’ll note them and try to bring them together succinctly here but I highly encourage you to read them. Fr. Steve sent out a “Financial Challenges and Issues” email at 4:29 pm Thursday and it is on the website here.
How much did Arts & Sciences contribute to reducing the Spring budget shortfall? The college contributed $546,000 gross, slightly less in net as I’ll explain. The details of this contribution were shared and discussed in A&S Budget Advisory Committee and I have mentioned it in the A&S Executive Committee and other internal college meetings (although I know I flipped the numbers and mentioned $450,000 in at least one Zoom meeting, don’t recall which one). Roughly $250,000 was from unneeded non-salary budget ($ that would have paid for on-campus events and travel that won’t occur, for example), $231,000 was from savings from unspent faculty budget (chairs have been working to map course offerings more closely to enrollment and Criminal Justice and Psychology have been able to offer larger course sections in the Harding building classrooms; this all makes a difference), $40,000 from unspent staff wages and about $26,000 was savings on unspent student wages (not firing students, leftover funds that weren’t used from fall and winter). We also lost $16,000 in income from student fees that were not collected in Spring quarter, so our net contribution was $531,000. I have to credit and thank the department chairs and program directors for thoughtful work looking at what funds could be put forward to address the spring shortfall.
Here are some Spring Quarter budget numbers that have been mentioned in different places and how they fit together. I’ll mention the number, one place where it was mentioned and how it fits with the other information.
$7,000,000 – mentioned in Fr. Steve’s email yesterday – the total budget shortfall for spring.
$3,000,000 – mentioned by Provost Martin in Academic Assembly on Tuesday – How much of that shortfall is not yet covered.
$531,000 – noted above by me in this update – How much the college contributed to the Spring budget shortfall.
$1,800,000 – mentioned by Provost Martin in Academic Assembly on Tuesday – The amount of CARES funding that the university can apply to its budgetary needs (an equal amount goes directly to students as noted above). It is not yet clear exactly how we can use those funds to address the shortfall.
$1,200,000 – a new number, subtracting the $1.8M CARES funding from the remaining $3M spring shortfall – the minimum remaining shortfall for this quarter, presuming we use all the CARES funding to address the spring deficit. This is the lowest amount the university will need to still find in this year’s budget, which runs to June 30th. It is a significant amount in the remaining 2-1/2 month window.
As Fr. Steve noted, enrollment (and thus budget) for the coming year is very much an open question. We hope our new recruitment efforts will help enrollment, moving it up from what might otherwise have occurred in these circumstance. We don’t know if we will be back on campus in the fall or not. Some students will decide not to return if we reopen campus, other students will make the same decision if we don’t. The difficult and painful range of options he mentioned will help the spring shortfall if they are implemented prior to June 30th, they will help next year’s budget if they are implemented or continue past June 30th.
What has been discussed in regard to furloughs in the college? I have not yet been approached about furloughs by Human Resources (furlough vs. layoff explained here). Based on Fr. Steve’s announcement I expect such conversations would occur in the next 13 days before May 1. We have already been asked to look at the few temporary workers employed around the college (about 6 people). We have done so, checked in with their supervisors and are making recommendations to the Provost’s Office. Most of them are funded by grants or endowments and therefore not impacted by the budget shortfall. Recommendations will be based on an assessment of the need for the role given the circumstances this quarter. Fr. Steve mentioned voluntary salary reductions at high levels of pay along with furloughs. Last night we (my wife and I) had a discussion about our situation now and looking ahead, I volunteered to take a reduction in salary and requested that it be implemented prior to any furloughs in the College of Arts & Sciences. We know the challenges that will create for us pale in comparison to what many others in our community are facing now and will face ahead in the coming months.
We don’t know what the future will bring in regard to enrollment; it will be less predictable than usual but remains the key driver in budget for the coming year. Enrollment has generally remained strong this Spring and that is very good news. May 1 will give the first indication of new student enrollment for the fall, but we know more students are going to wait and make the decision later, closer to June.
The key thing we can do is provide a quality, supportive and rigorous experience for our students. They chose Seattle U because of who we are at our core; we have not changed as people. The students’ experience with us will be a huge factor in what they decide to do for next year. This is where we can make a difference for them and for us.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones, and have a good weekend.
Haven’t seen any big ones in the past 24 hours, but I am thinking of our many A&S West Seattle residents who will be dealing with the bridge being out for at least two years.
Mike Myint update: After everything he’s done, he took a break on an update today, so here’s one that I skipped earlier that you might be interested in.
Covid-19 where there is a will, there is a way.
Applying the learnings from the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and the power of mobilized worldwide efforts to contain Epidemics and support vulnerable populations.
The work done in the DRC to contain the Ebola outbreak to date, has been remarkable. Going into this epidemic, there was a long-standing civil war in the Kivu region where the outbreak occurred. I will say that many of us, myself included, weren't sure local governments including DRC, surrounding countries and the international community, could mobilize fast and effectively enough to contain this outbreak.
For more information on this outbreak:
Despite working in this war zone and with significant local and international support, the second largest Ebola outbreak recorded in history, is close to ending. If uncontrolled, this outbreak could have ravaged Africa and beyond. This remarkable collaboration of the DRC, neighboring governments, international NGOs led by the WHO, is a triumph. Despite the work to date, the infrastructure in place is ready to identify, isolate and care for these sporadic new cases which are an expected part of the end of an epidemic.
A nice summary from the WHO is here.
What was remarkable form this last link summary was an excerpt that I will take verbatim from the above link.
The public health response pillar (Pillar 1) of the fourth Strategic Response Plan (SRP-4) for the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri seeks to take into account the new strategy to scale-up the response in order to interrupt the epidemic. It focuses on the following:
1. Detection and rapid isolation of cases;
2. Intensification of rapid multidisciplinary public health actions around any confirmed case;
3. Strengthening community engagement;
4. Strengthening the health system and effective coordination of the activities of local and international partners;
5. Synergies between public health activities and those of the security, humanitarian, financial and operational readiness sectors, and operational readiness of neighbouring countries, to create an enabling environment for the response.
Replace Ebola with C19 and DRC, North Kivu with [fill in your country]. These basic epidemiologic and public health interventions are the backbone of effective disease and outbreak management. Simple, not easy. And seeing the fantastic work done in the DRC, eminently doable at a larger scale for this new pandemic of C19.