Campus Update

April 1, 2020
Kim A. Wilcox
April 1, 2020

Dear UCR Colleagues:

The past few weeks have been unlike any other in recent memory. Like many of you, I have been unsettled by the dramatic shift in our daily routines and uncertainty about when our lives will return to normal.

Despite these challenges, I am immensely proud of how our entire campus community has rallied together. Our collective efforts to “flatten the curve,” as well as our enduring commitment to support our students and each other, have been truly extraordinary.

While we have made substantial changes to our work and personal lives, I trust that many of you have been following the news and are rightly concerned about how the economic downturn will affect UCR and each of us personally. At the moment, there are no simple answers, as the pandemic’s total impact and duration are still to be determined.

Governor Newsom has indicated that next year’s state budget will need to be significantly adjusted to address urgent health care needs and dire unemployment trends. He also announced that the normal “May” economic update to the state budget will be postponed until August, to align with the deferral of the state income tax deadline.

Given these unprecedented circumstances, we are working closely with the UC Office of the President to identify options for addressing operational changes due to “closure” and our projected budget shortfalls, as well as their related impacts upon faculty, staff, and students.

Though we don’t yet know the full scope and scale of budget reductions, we must be prudent in safeguarding our financial resources and undertake cost-saving measures to sustain our campus priorities. To this end, we will be adopting the following practices, effective April 1, 2020:

  • Review of all existing financial allocations, central and otherwise, to identify those items that can be deferred.
  • Scale back the annual campus budget process, with each unit asked to identify opportunities for immediate savings and no central budget commitments planned for FY 2020-21.
  • Review, postpone, or suspend all open faculty and staff searches, with exceptional approval required by the cognizant Vice Chancellor, Dean, or organizational head to move forward. Human Resources and Academic Personnel will institute monthly reports to track approved exceptions. 
  • Review, postpone, or suspend any pending compensation actions for staff, including but not limited to off-cycle equity adjustments, reclassifications, or retentions, which will require endorsement by the cognizant Vice Chancellor, Dean, or organizational head, followed by exceptional approval by the Provost to move forward.
  • Postpone annual performance review cycle until July 1, 2020, subject to further review at that time.
  • Suspend biennial salary equity review process for staff (scheduled for FY 2020-21), until further notice.
  • Suspend STAR and SPOT awards, until further notice.

The UC Office of the President will soon provide guidance regarding annual salary increase programs. Current estimates indicate that postponement of annual salary increases could yield substantial savings for the campus. We will provide updates on any adjustments to these programs, as soon as they become available.

These practices will understandably be challenging for the campus, given our already lean budgets. UCR’s resilience has often been tested, and we’ve consistently emerged as a better, more robust institution following periods of uncertainty and financial duress.

This resilience has been demonstrated by our community’s ability to quickly respond to this public health emergency – our faculty have heroically transformed their teaching practices and research activities, our staff have valiantly stepped up to support essential functions on-campus and remotely from their homes, and our students have ably adapted to these changes in order to advance their academic progress. 

The global pandemic and ensuing financial crisis remind us that our commitments to innovative research and socio-economic mobility will be crucial to everyone’s future. Though the months ahead will not be easy, we must remain true to our university’s mission, while keeping our communities and ourselves in good health.