Special meeting with University Leaders

May 6, 2020

Cabinet members in attendance:  Fr. Stephen Sundborg, Michelle Clements, Natasha Martin, Wilson Garone, Shane Martin, Mary Petersen

Leann Wagele, SUSC President, Framing Thoughts

  • SUSC is continuing our work, based on our original priorities but our directions have shifted as we receive questions from staff during current transitions, including desires for transparency and communication, especially around budget decisions.
  • Staff Council looks forward to being a partner with other entities in these challenging times, helping with decisions and processes.

President Stephen Sundborg, Opening Remarks

  • The focus is shifting now to the return of students, staff, and faculty to campus.
  • We need to reach out to admitted and confirmed students regarding:
    • What do we want for them? What can we assure them?  What are we working on for them?

Provost Shane Martin, Taskforce on Re-Opening

  • Current and new students are looking for our plans.
    • We are considering scenarios consistent with our values
    • The primary focus is on the health of all in our community.
  • We will not be able to be together in the same way as before so we are considering a number of scenarios.
    • The task force will be in dialogue with many campus groups, including Academic Assembly and Staff Council.
  • We will follow guidance from the governor and others as we are committed to doing this the right way.
  • There will likely be a phased return of staff to campus and Cabinet members want to hear from staff about any safety concerns.
  • The VP for Diversity and Inclusion, Natasha Martin, wants to work in partnership with SU Staff Council and those we represent, noting that the health of our “virtual lives” matters and needs attention. 

Wilson Garone, CFO, FY21 Budget Update

  • Covid-19 will put us behind in our financial repositioning.
    • We experienced an additional $7 million revenue loss in spring quarter.
  • The uncertainties of FY21 present three scenarios.
    • These range from reopening as usual to remaining mostly virtual through AY21.
    • We will have more direction about which course of action to take later this summer. 

Michelle Clements, Human Resources VP, Workforce Actions

  • Three realities have framed the context for workforce decisions:
    • 1. The University has moved its entire platform to virtual learning.
    • 2. The governor has issued orders for staying home and for safe start of businesses.
    • 3. The University has a $7 million loss this Spring and uncertainty for Fall.
  • People all over campus are experiencing the impact of these changes differently, but everyone is impacted somehow.
  • The University made furlough decisions based on job descriptions, focusing on positions that were underemployed or unable to work from home.
  • By starting furloughs with the May 1 pay period, employees would be able to collect maximum federal supplemental unemployment, which expires on July 31. Logistics did not leave time to notify employees any earlier so the 2-day advance notice was intentional.   
  • The university wanted to focus specifically on positions that were underemployed so did not consider voluntary furloughs or voluntary early retirement.
  • It is the hope that some staff with lighter workloads can be redeployed to assist with heavier workloads in other areas.
  • A task force has been created to look at how the University will bring community members back safely. They are asking for staff input.
  • The University did not consider releasing a list of names or positions of furloughed employees.
    • Division leaders were asked to share information in their areas.
  • Largest temporary pay reductions were focused on those with highest salaries 
    • Staff below director level were not asked to consider temporary pay reductions.
  • Supplemental COVID-19 Leave ended on April 30
    • HR is working individually with those who have health issues or are impacted by childcare issues.
  • Some layoffs were planned before COVID-19 and small numbers will be laid off, effective June 30.
    • Many open positions have been eliminated.
    • Budget impacts will be considered in summer when we have more information about enrollment and again in October or November when we have final numbers.

How can Staff Council assist during this period?

  • The university needs input from staff regarding all aspects of reopening.
  • HR would like help with annual appreciation event.
  • Any ideas on outreach to current or first-time-in-college students can be directed to staff in Student Development