As a finals week like no other begins, bringing to a close a semester like no other, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect.
However, it is important now that we also look ahead at a university that will look and operate differently.
President Freeman’s message to campus last Thursday regarding the financial impacts of COVID-19 on NIU painted a stark, but realistic, picture. Dr. Freeman calculates our current revenue losses and real costs in the range of $40 million to $50 million, adding that those numbers will climb.
Her plans to trim spending call for voluntary pay cuts for senior leaders – myself included – as well as a hiring “chill,” an immediate suspension of purchases that are not time-sensitive or essential, an evaluation of existing contracts to identify opportunities to reduce costs or postpone services and a diminished reliance on extra help employees.
Some of these measures might seem tough to swallow, but they are what these uncertain times demand. Please know that our leadership team in the College of Education supports President Freeman fully in her fiscal responsibility: Tightening NIU’s belt is critical to our future.
We are beginning to plan at the college level for the fall. This includes scenario planning for offering classes and also working with the departments to determine their financial needs. Our scenario planning will help the university make and announce a decision for fall by the end of June. President Freeman will also present her FY21 budget at the June 18 meeting of the NIU Board of Trustees so our budget finalization will follow after that date.
Let me take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude for all you have done to respond to this unprecedented challenge, and I’d also like to salute the College of Education Senate for its vital and unwavering leadership this semester.
I am proud of how we all have practiced kindness, patience and understanding with each other and our students, and I ask that we all continue to do so. We have accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time and under an enormous deal of pressure, both at work and at home, and our shared humanity has buoyed those efforts. No matter how the coming months test us – and they will test us – I am convinced that we can face them together and emerge stronger.
Finally, a housekeeping note: Today’s Ed News is the last weekly publication. We are returning to our monthly posting schedule for the summer, but I will continue to communicate with you as needed with important updates.
My best, and stay well,