COVID-19: Financial implications for departments and units (April 19, 2020)

To: FAS Department Chairs and Program Directors
CC: FAS Steering; FAS Dean’s Office; FAS Lead Administrators, Operations Managers, and Chairs’ Assistants

Dear Department Chairs and Program Directors in the FAS,

At my April 16 presentation on the budget to the JBPO, I mentioned a 5% cut to department and unit budgets for AY21. Only afterwards did I realize that this number was unfamiliar to many of you. I apologize for this lapse in communication.

In his April 7 provostial message outlining the initial and longer-term financial implications of COVID-19, Scott underlined the need to avoid non-essential expenditures and prioritize the use of restricted funds; this followed the FAS message of April 1 in which I asked departments and units to avoid all non-essential expenditures, so that we can direct all available resources towards our core mission of research and teaching. Over the next several weeks, your operations managers will be working with lead administrators for specific ways to limit expenditures in their budget planning for next year. The budget office has recommended that non-salary general allocation (GA) funds be reduced by 5%, and that non-GA expenses be similarly reduced by 5%.

This modest reduction will help us manage the impact of the market on endowment distributions. I ask that you speak with your operations managers about the best places to cut back without a loss to research or teaching continuity.

One additional update: Over the next days, members of the FAS Dean’s office will be reaching out to you to confirm details about your instructional faculty requests for next year and to let you know which of these requests we will be able to meet. We expect to start issuing letters this week. Given the scale and complexity (we have several hundred cases to take care of), this will take several weeks: we apologize in advance for any stress that this staggered process will bring to you and to our instructional colleagues.
Thank you for your continuing leadership in these challenging times.
Stay safe, stay well,


Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science