The University of Virginia today announced freezes in hiring and salaries as part of a set of policy adjustments implemented to address the deep financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on University operations.
In a message to the University community, President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. K. Craig Kent said decisions made during the ongoing uncertainty are guided by UVA’s determination to maintain excellence in its core mission, and to work together to find creative solutions. The University also plans to share the burden of cost-cutting, rather than concentrating it on those who are most vulnerable. This includes maintaining UVA’s commitment to access and affordability and to meeting 100% of student financial need.
“As always, but especially now, we must be exceptionally good stewards of our resources so that we can continue to carry out our core mission, and in so doing be of service to the commonwealth and beyond,” Ryan and his leadership team said in the message. “At the same time, we must never forget that the people at UVA – our faculty, staff, and students – remain our greatest asset, and will be the key to our ability to weather this crisis and recover with strength.”
Having already suffered major financial losses in its Academic Division and UVA Health, the University expects more revenue shortfalls from all of its funding sources, including tuition, state funding, clinical care, research grants, endowment returns and philanthropy. In response, the following policies have been adopted:
- Hiring freeze: UVA is pausing hiring for open faculty, staff and health system team member positions, unless an exception is approved by executive leadership.
- Salary freeze: There will be no merit increases for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
- Limiting capital projects: Only capital projects that are in design or construction and are fully funded will proceed.
- Expense reduction: All schools and units will cut or eliminate non-essential expenses.
- Senior leadership pay cuts: UVA’s executive leadership team will take a 10% salary reduction.
The University leaders said UVA will continue to review finances and operations and communicate additional steps that might be necessary, as well as the rationale behind them. UVA is committed to avoiding furloughs and layoffs for as long as possible, the message said, but also signaled that “the health system may have no choice but to turn to these steps sooner rather than later given the serious financial situation they are facing because of the significant disruption to clinical care.”
“These are not decisions we make lightly, as we know they will be disruptive and difficult,” the leaders said in Tuesday’s message. “But we are in a period of shared sacrifice, with more challenges ahead. We will meet these challenges by focusing on our core mission, by doing our best to support one another, and by continuing to look for creative solutions.”
As the global pandemic gained momentum this spring, UVA responded quickly by making major operational changes designed to protect the health of the University community while continuing to provide essential instruction, patient care and research.
UVA announced that classes would remain online through the end of the spring semester and through at least the first two summer sessions. Final Exercises as traditionally held on the Lawn in May were postponed, and alternate plans now are being developed. UVA cancelled all events and gatherings on Grounds until at least June 30, and implemented a telework policy for those whose jobs could be performed remotely.
The University also decided to issue prorated refunds to cover a portion of spring semester housing and dining costs for students who were forced to vacate residence halls in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Ryan announced the creation of a $2 million emergency assistance fund to assist contract workers who have been furloughed and to assist UVA employees who may be facing unexpected costs due to the crisis. UVA also contributed $1 million to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.
“If there were ever a time to be both great and good, this is surely it, and that is precisely what you have been as a community. As difficult as this period has been, it has also been a time filled with inspiring acts of generosity, ingenuity and kindness,” the leadership team said. “The challenges presented by this crisis are difficult to exaggerate. This pandemic has not simply made fulfilling our core mission more difficult. It also has had – and continues to have – serious financial consequences for the University.”