To faculty and staff: Novel coronavirus financial implications

Dear Colleagues:

Michigan State University has risen to every challenge we’ve faced as this epidemic has spread across our world, our nation and our state. I am saddened by the loss of life and the unceasing threat to individual, family and community sustainability. I’ve been proud of the many efforts to move teaching and learning beyond the classroom and to institute remote working for most of our employees. I’ve been particularly grateful to our coworkers, who have done their jobs providing essential services, caring for students, maintaining facilities and ensuring campus safety. I am honored by the ownership our university has taken in supporting community efforts statewide. We are Michigan’s state university.

Financial Implications and Actions
Student and community reliance on MSU force me to confront a growing threat. It is with a troubled heart that I must announce to you today a series of budget reductions as a result of the financial strains placed on the university due to the novel coronavirus. I recognize that none of this is anyone’s fault. To the contrary, as a university community, you have been selfless, partnering, forward-thinking and quick to respond. I am asking that we continue to rally together as we face this challenge and implement the following measures.

First, all MSU executives will be taking a 2% to 7% temporary pay cut based on salary levels, anticipated to last through May or June but possibly a full year. I will be taking a 10% pay reduction, effective immediately.

Second, we expect travel expenditures to be substantially reduced, based on the actions taken to date. Other discretionary expenses should be reduced to the greatest extent possible, including outside services, consulting, conferences and purchases. While this is not a university-wide ban, I am counting on units to achieve meaningful savings from these reductions.

Third, we will consider delaying or modifying several construction and remodeling projects and major equipment expenditures. A list of these projects will be shared following the completion of our assessment and approval by the Trustees, if needed.

It’s important to note that these reductions help address the impacts we have felt in FY 2020 and help us prepare for the future. While we continue to work to assess the impact, we know that revenue reductions and real costs are already in the $50 million to $60 million range for FY 2020. There are more budget and employment decisions that will impact our community yet to be made. Please know that I will share additional information when I can.

Summer and Fall Enrollment
As we look toward FY 2021, our summer and fall enrollment levels are major factors influencing our financial situation and required actions. The efforts underway to enroll students for the summer and recruit the class of 2024 remain top priorities. We’ve seen promising news in our applications and deposits, which remain near last year’s levels, but international student enrollment is anticipated to be impacted due to travel restrictions and visa issues. 

Unprecedented Times
I recognize that these are unprecedented times for so many faculty, staff, students and alumni — both personally and professionally. I am optimistic that the majority of changes will be temporary, but I also know that if we delay taking action, the effects will be larger and last longer.

I will be holding a live stream for faculty and staff on Monday at 3 p.m. Details for submitting your questions can be found here. The live stream will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Maintaining Our Mission
While our focus on safety will remain, we are also committed to continuing to provide the world-class education for which MSU is known. Whether our classes or work are conducted online, in-person or in hybrid formats, we will always maintain extraordinary teaching, research and service. 

As we take required actions, we will keep our academic mission at the forefront of all we do. I intend, with your support, to ensure that MSU remains a place where students are excited to enroll, where faculty and staff find fulfilling work and where our community outreach makes a difference every day in Michigan and around the globe.

Please accept my thanks for your continued commitment as we deal with this global pandemic. I remain hopeful that we can return to campus and welcome our students for the fall semester. In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and be well.


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.