Dear Roosevelt Community,
I want to thank you for your continued understanding, resilience, flexibility and determination during this unprecedented time. We have endured a pandemic that really, no one anticipated. You have persevered, and with our spring semester completed, we are now entering into the summer sessions and forecasting what the fall may look like for Roosevelt.
We continue to assess the entire University operations today and over the next year. As I have said in the past, this health crisis is not going away. Even as the State of Illinois and City of Chicago slowly open up, we are anticipating very strict guidelines to ensure the health and safety of yourselves and those around you. This, obviously, influences our decision making around how it may look like to be on campus, and we were driven to make some very difficult decisions. I certainly do not want to alarm you, but this is the reality that we, and every other university in the country, are facing.
We are continuing to make progress on our Building A Stronger Roosevelt initiative, a three-pronged approach to improve enrollments, grow revenues, and cut expenses while investing in academic programs. In late March 2020, Moody’s investment services downgraded the entire higher education sector from stable to negative. In sum, Covid-19 has had a major impact in higher education and, as a result, universities around the nation are anticipating budget shortfalls, lower enrollments, and lack of fundraising; Roosevelt faces these same challenges.
To that end, we must take appropriate actions to prevent our $4.7 million deficit from increasing. If enrollment holds, we still hope to have a balanced budget in fiscal year 2021. I want to be transparent and discuss the environment our leadership is facing and the decisions we have made. These decisions impact everyone across the integrated university, all departments and academic units.
Budget Reductions and Furloughs
After assessing positions and needs of the University to serve our students, a small percentage of full-time staff and administration positions were eliminated. The employees filling these positions have been or will soon be notified. In addition, I have asked all Vice Presidents and Deans to reduce their operating expenses and budgets by 10% immediately. We have implemented a hiring freeze, eliminated funded and open positions, and no department’s operational expenses will increase. A vast majority of employees, with the exception of faculty, Executive Council, and Deans’ Council, have been notified that they will be taking a furlough of between two and four days per month until August 31, 2020, as determined by the appropriate supervisor, based on the needs of that unit. Lastly, the Executive Council and Deans’ Council have also been asked to take a 5% salary reduction with no changes in work load until August 31, 2020. For additional details and FAQ’s please visit the COVID-19 website.
Our reentry strategy will be reflective of the State’s phased approach and we will be following directives of health officials, and other higher education governing bodies. We are anticipating that there will be a limited number of people on campus, with most employees still working remotely and continuing to teach virtual classes, to some degree.
Similar actions will be announced by the Auditorium leadership.
Roosevelt leadership is asking for even more collaboration and best practices across our university. It is critical that we continue to provide support, training, sharing ideas and coming up with creative solutions as we prepare for the future and deliver on our promise to students regarding the education experience they are expecting. Roosevelt will continue to be a nationally-recognized catalyst for students from all walks of life to receive transformational learning experiences and will be socially conscious citizens who thrive in a diverse and changing world.
The University community has demonstrated a willingness to adapt and adjust, to our contingency plans particularly as it relates to the delivery of education, servicing our students while shifting the mindset in order to achieve this. Our students have done an incredible job moving to virtual learning and getting the support services that they need, and I’m sure, connecting with peers. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this.
With warm regards,
Ali R. Malekzadeh, Ph.D.