Team Michigan Engineering:
Last week, President Mark Schlissel shared with you the measures being taken to preserve University financial resources in the face of uncertainty. Since his announcement, I have had time to hear from many people from across the College about how these efforts will impact our work, and the additional questions they have raised.
I want to first acknowledge that the financial uncertainties can be worrisome, and will inevitably have a direct impact on our activities. Short-term sacrifices will be required. New information will necessitate rapid adjustments that will require great patience from everyone.
In all aspects of addressing the upcoming implications of the coronavirus pandemic, we will begin with our College values as the foundation of shaping what I believe is one of our great strengths — our culture. These guiding principles will be used to inform our decision-making in Engineering:
- Preserve what’s best about the Michigan Engineering culture
- Emerge from this experience in a position of strength
- Endure short-term sacrifices for the long-term health of the College
- Be as responsive, inclusive and data-driven as possible
- Prioritize community safety, well-being, and academics
- Permit flexibility where possible, and encourage patience
I want to share additional information about what this means for the Engineering community, and how we can all be most attentive to the health of the College with an eye towards Michigan Engineering emerging from this crisis in a position of strength.
Non-essential expense elimination
Our goal is to preserve funds to support our essential services. All non-essential expenses should be suspended. This includes all funding sources. We are working with your department leadership as questions arise to determine what is essential and non-essential. The University has provided a list of what is considered non-essential as a guide. If you think you need to incur an expense on this list, you will need to work with your department leadership to justify why it is considered essential, and how it will help move the College on a trajectory that ensures our future success.
Hiring and salary freeze
The hiring freezes are an extension of what we have been doing for the past few weeks. No new positions should be posted, and existing hiring should be suspended unless an offer has already been extended. Hiring for positions that are deemed critical must be approved by the College’s Human Resources department.
Although it is being done for the common good of the institution, I know that the salary freeze and cancellation of the merit program (with exceptions mentioned by the president) is disappointing news. Please know we continue to value your contributions to this organization – your commitment and excellent work are what keep us strong. We will still proceed with annual reports and evaluations for faculty and performance reviews for staff, so that we can provide feedback and have a record of work accomplishments and performance.
Voluntary furloughs and reductions
On Monday, employees could begin applying for temporary furloughs or reduced hours. For those employees who are considering these options, I want to make it clear that participation is voluntary. For those of you who are experiencing difficulty or are unable to work as a result of the pandemic, this option may alleviate financial or personal challenges.
Please talk over these choices carefully with your manager and weigh all the implications, including your existing and projected workload, length of time before the first unemployment check will arrive, longevity of the additional unemployment compensation benefit of $600, and the impact on your benefits. This page offers additional guidance, presented in a grid format. If you are interested in one of these options, you must apply with your manager and unit’s approval no later than May 8.
I know these changes can be difficult to digest, and I cannot promise that there won’t be more changes to come. But I do know that we will lead with our values, and I have every faith that your commitment and resilience will help us emerge from this crisis.
Our Engineering COVID Council and Action Teams, composed of leaders throughout the College, are hard at work tackling the challenges at hand, and anticipating those on the horizon. These range from continuity of operations or education to finances and research. Although the residential status of the fall semester is uncertain, we are working on all fronts to determine if and how we can return to campus. In the near term and until further notice, all employees who can work from home must continue to do so.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns using this form. We are here to help as we move forward, and we are committed to being as transparent as possible with you at every step.
Stay well, stay strong, and Go Blue,