Recovery planning

To: UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

I am so grateful to our staff and faculty for your dedication to our campus, our students, and our mission. You have continually modeled innovation and hard work as we face unprecedented challenges as our campus continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your commitment and ability to build communities of learning across distance continues to inspire me and makes me proud to be a member of the UC Santa Cruz community

Budget Impacts and Uncertainty

There are a number of factors that will contribute to the fiscal impacts on our campus and California as a result of COVID-19. We do not yet know what kinds of instruction will be possible in the fall; we cannot forecast with any certainty how our operations will look as we start our next academic year; and we do not yet know our fall enrollments. The state budget for the next fiscal year and the associated investment in the University of California will not be known until at least September. This period of budget uncertainty and concerns about revenue losses will likely continue beyond the 2020-21 academic year. In addition, depending on the future trajectory of COVID-19 and the potential for resurgence, there could be additional waves of impact. In order to prepare for a variety of scenarios that could emerge, we are deeply engaged in developing plans that provide good fiscal, public health, and safety stewardship and will continue to develop, refine and share these plans as information becomes available.

Workforce Planning

This high degree of budget uncertainty has led to concern about layoffs. As you know, President Naplitano and the 10 campus Chancellors sent out a communication in March stating a commitment to no COVID-19 related layoffs through the rest of the current fiscal year. At this point we do not have enough budget information to say definitively what may happen in regard to layoffs after July 1, 2020. I know this message does not bring reassurance, but I offer it in the spirit of transparency. Many have asked if voluntary pay cuts or similar actions could be implemented to minimize the potential for layoffs or other budget cuts. All of these possibilities are on the table. We are working with the Office of the President and the other UC campuses to coordinate efforts to address potential budget shortfalls.

CARES Act Funding

Universities and colleges are receiving limited federal funding to assist with the fiscal impact of COVID-19. Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, UC Santa Cruz has been allocated $19.3 million. Federal guidelines state that these funds must go toward expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. One-half of these funds must be awarded directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants. Students will receive a follow-up email explaining this process. The remaining half (approximately $9.6M) are to cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction. Interim Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer, working with the academic leadership team, will recommend how these funds should be directed per federal guidelines. I share with others the hope that there will be additional COVID-19 federal legislation, but it is not yet clear what kinds of financial relief will come to the University of California or UC Santa Cruz. The campus is also tracking all expenses for other kinds of support, through agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Planning for Recovery

Though we face uncertainty about many elements of our operations, we are actively engaging in planning to identify how we can and should respond based on various scenarios. As part of this work, I have asked the campus leadership team to think through how their operations and finances would be impacted by various scenarios including permanent campus budget reductions of 5, 10 and 15 percent. I have also asked them to identify the opportunities for revenue generation or other operational efficiencies that could mitigate possible budget cuts. We are developing a set of principles to guide this work so that our mission and goals continue to guide our budget decisions. We will share information about these principles as this work continues.

Recovery and Resiliency Committee Structure

Scenario planning is the basis for the recovery and resiliency work moving forward in response to COVID-19. The health and safety of our campus community is our top priority in this work. I have appointed a Recovery and Resiliency Steering Committee to guide the work of the two task forces.

The first task force is focused on Academic Recovery and Resiliency, and is chaired by Lori Kletzer. The focus of this group is identifying the possible modalities of our teaching, learning, and research, and related student affairs, housing and residential life operations for the coming 2020-21 academic year.  

The second task force is focused on Operations and Employee Recovery and Resiliency, and is chaired by Vice Chancellor for Business and Administration Sarah Latham. The focus of this group is on community and morale, how we return to work, how people navigate the fears and uncertainties of returning to work, and how we leverage opportunities that have emerged over the last couple of months. This work includes identifying how we can return to work safely and the many issues that relate to resumption of business. As these groups identify recommendations, I have asked them to share information with the campus community.

I know this period of isolation and uncertainty is difficult. I encourage you to continue to seek out new methods for connecting with your peers, colleagues and co-workers. Additionally, the Employee Assistance Program is available to all faculty and staff. Based on your feedback, our Staff Human Resources team is actively working to expand the number of sessions available via this program. We have also launched a webpage that outlines other resources available to you in support of wellbeing and mental health during the COVID19 pandemic.

Thank you again for all you are doing to support UC Santa Cruz.