We begin this new fiscal year with some unprecedented challenges. As most of you know, the University was already facing some significant challenges before the onset of the pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has brought a sharp focus to the changes that we need to consider and implement, and you will read about some of those changes in this month’s IN Focus article.
I want to assure folks that we are working diligently to manage our finances in these exceptional times. Since mid-March we have focused on preserving our cash position in order to ensure we had the resources to respond to the pandemic. Our current estimates suggest that our approach has enabled us to manage our finances without resorting to some of the difficult measures instituted by other higher education institutions.
As part of this management effort, we informed campus units about the specific budget and financial impacts from the pandemic and apprised them of the steps we were taking to mitigate these impacts – from instituting a review process for all non-personnel related purchases to centralizing our procurements for community protective equipment.
We also talked to units individually, especially those with revenues or expenditures directly impacted by COVID-19, to understand how the virus has altered their situations and prospective financial planning. One point that I have already stressed to campus is that, unfortunately, we won’t have the resources to support new initiatives from central funding sources as we have in the past.
Throughout this period we emphasized that the University must address the pandemic’s challenges collectively and foster enhanced coordination between the University’s “center” and the constituent units on campus. We must all be open to new approaches and think about how we’re going to meet these challenges together.
While it’s true this uncertain time can be scary for us all — I would be foolish to say that it is not – I also believe it provides us with some windows of opportunity to do things better. If we continue to work together proactively and safeguard our resources, we’ll get through this, together.