Some extracts from President Schill’s plans to address the financial fallout from the coronavirus. Everything in ” ” is a direct quote from his email to the university today. The translations are from google translate’s new “no bullshit” mode:
Pres Schill: “For a variety of reasons (low state support, high-cost mandatory benefits programs, and a recent drop in international enrollment) our reserves are lower than other peer institutions across the country.”
Translation: Our reserves are low because of other people’s decisions, not because I spent $2.15M wiring up The Phildo or $?M building our new Athletic Village.
Pres Schill: “We also do not think we can look to tuition increases to address major shortfalls the way we did following the last recession. Our nonresident students already pay market tuition, and the incomes of Oregon residents make paying more in tuition very difficult, particularly in a period of mass unemployment.”
Translation: We can’t increase tuition because we just started a very poorly timed tuition guarantee program which means 9% increases for freshmen and locks in low increases for current continuing students. We were told we’d need a substantial reserve to implement this, but we went ahead anyway.
Pres Schill: “A third revenue source would be our endowment, but those accounts are almost all restricted and their value has fallen as a result of the stock market decline.”
Translation: We can’t use our endowment because those are restricted funds, and we only break gift agreements when the money comes from a professor giving it to the academic bucket. Athletic donations are sacred, particularly the $12M Jumbotron.
Pres Schill: “A fourth option would be to cut personnel costs, since almost 80 percent of our Education and General (E&G) budget is composed of salaries and benefits. This would be quite difficult since we operate at staffing ratios that are much lower than our peer schools and most salaries are set by collective bargaining agreements. … Last week Provost Phillips and Vice President Jamie Moffitt circulated a proposal for a progressive pay reduction (PPR) program that I realize may have surprised some of you.”
Translation: I threw Provost Banavar under the bus for last year’s budget crisis cuts. This time it’s worse, so I’m going to throw a Provost *and* a VP.
Pres Schill: “The reality is that we will need to do something to adjust expenses if enrollment declines significantly and/or we receive state budget cuts. Again, we are open to suggestions and collaborative approaches designed to solve the problem.”
Translation: Your opinions are not worth a damn thing, and whatever we do it will come from the secret meetings I’m now having with my Financial Continuity Team, just as the pay cut plan did.
Full letter below:
Dear University of Oregon community,
The COVID-19 crisis strikes at the heart of the University of Oregon’s mission. As a great residential university, we are grounded in the foundational notion that, by bringing people together in this amazing and special campus setting, we provide a world-class, transformative educational experience. That education takes place in our classrooms, labs, libraries, and studios. But it also takes place in serendipitous encounters in dining facilities, on our beautiful lawns, in our residence halls, and at our sporting events. In these various, unique settings our students learn what it means to be human in a society full of diverse people and perspectives. As we turn our attention to the fall and our long-term future we must always keep this mission in mind.