To: FAS Department and Program Chairs
CC: FAS Steering; FAS Dean’s Office; FAS Lead Administrators, Operations Managers, and Chairs’ Assistants
Summary: This message describes a series of actions being taken across the university in response to the financial consequences of the pandemic. These include (a) a pause in faculty and staff hiring, (b) an expectation that units will forgo non-essential expenditures and reconsider new financial commitments; (c) an understanding that current use gifts and endowment funds will be used wherever possible in place of unrestricted funds. The specific implications of these actions for the FAS are discussed in the second part of the message.
Dear FAS Department Chairs,
I write to share with you a message sent by Provost Scott Strobel and Senior Vice President Jack Callahan to Yale’s vice presidents, deans, directors, and lead administrators earlier this week. The message addresses the financial implications of COVID-19 on the Yale community, and asks each of the units to take a number of steps to ensure that we will be able to continue to support our core mission of research and teaching.
The university budget message
The university budget message begins by noting that “The university faces immediate and long-term financial consequences from the pandemic. There have been substantial unbudgeted costs associated with stopping the spread of COVID-19, which has been our highest priority. We will experience a decline in many important sources of revenue, including the endowment. Although the full financial costs to the university of COVID-19 are still not known, the university must begin to adjust to new budget realities resulting from the pandemic and likely global economic downturn.” (The full text of the university message can be found here.)
In light of these concerns, the message announces a series of actions that will be taken across the university, of which three are of direct concern to you in your role as an FAS department chair. In the words of the provost and executive vice president, these are:
- We are pausing University-wide hiring for open faculty and staff positions until the end of the academic year, June 30, 2020, except for rare exceptions that must be approved by the provost or senior vice president for operations. Our objective is to focus support on our existing faculty, students, and staff. Deans will review with the provost the status of authorized, ongoing faculty searches and jointly determine which, if any, can proceed this spring, and which should be delayed until the financial situation is clearer. Human Resources will send additional information about the staff hiring pause later in the week.
- We ask all units to forgo all non-essential expenditures and reconsider or avoid significant new financial commitments, including the advanced booking of travel for the summer or fall.
- Schools and departments must ensure that restricted current use gifts and endowment funds are used first, in accordance with their indentures, before and in place of unrestricted funds, to provide maximum flexibility in responding to the pandemic and the financial situation.
Implications for the FAS
What does this mean for the FAS?
Ladder faculty searches: As the university memo says, “Deans will review with the provost the status of authorized, ongoing faculty searches and jointly determine which, if any, can proceed this spring, and which should be delayed until the financial situation is clearer.” In the case of the FAS, there are numerous active ladder faculty searches at various stages of completion. For ladder searches where a final candidate has been selected and a verbal offer with terms has been made, department chairs can assume that a formal letter to the candidate can be issued; your divisional dean will work with you on the details. For ladder searches which have identified a final candidate but have not yet made a verbal offer with terms, your divisional dean will reach out to you to determine whether the offer will need to be postponed. For ladder searches that have not yet selected a final candidate, you should assume that the search will need to be suspended. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis: your divisional dean will reach out to you to discuss your individual situation. Such exceptions must be formally granted by the provost.
Instructional faculty searches: Searches for instructional faculty and post-doctoral fellows (other than those supported by grants or start-up funds) should be put on hold. If you are midway through scheduled interviews, you may complete those, with the knowledge that a letter of appointment may be delayed or disallowed. If you have an extremely time-sensitive instructional search issue, you may reach out to your divisional dean to discuss the case.
Staff searches: Any incomplete staff search should be delayed or canceled. Rare exceptions to this policy may be requested on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the FAS senior director of business operations (Cathy Vellucci). Such exceptions must be formally granted by the senior vice president for operations. Additional information about the staff hiring pause will be sent by Human Resources later this week.
Non-essential expenditures: All non-essential expenditures should cease. Essential expenditures include those related to the production of research and classroom instruction. Non-essential expenditures include those related to the promotion of research (including most conferences, workshops, and talks involving external visitors), social events, and any other expenditures not directly related to the production of research or classroom instruction. Questions about whether an expenditure is essential should be directed to your operations manager or lead administrator.
New Financial Commitments: All FAS units should avoid making significant new financial commitments; in particular, faculty and departments should not at this time book travel or plan events for the summer.
Use of restricted funds: All FAS units should expect that any expenses that are currently supported by unrestricted funds will be moved to current-use gifts and endowment funds wherever possible; this will allow for maximum flexibility in responding to the pandemic and the financial situation.
We recognize that these adjustments, which represent a profound adjustment to our ordinary practices, will affect different units in different ways. We are grateful to all of you for your readiness to contribute to the common good. At this moment of financial uncertainty, this coordinated effort will help ensure that we can continue to support our existing faculty, staff and students.
With gratitude for your readiness to direct our resources to the areas of greatest current financial need, I remain,
Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science