Cornell leaders manage financial impact of COVID-19

Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Joanne DeStefano sent the following message to faculty and staff on March 30:

As we all continue to adjust to the extraordinary circumstances of these past weeks, we have been working with our senior leadership colleagues to address the many implications of this global pandemic. We echo President Pollack’s comments on how heartening it has been to witness the community-focused support and concern exhibited by so many on our campus.

While much of our focus to date has appropriately been on the public health implications of COVID-19, we only have to look at the nation’s rising unemployment figures to know that there are also significant financial impacts of the virus. As you would expect, there are both near- and long-term financial impacts of de-densifying our campuses and of making such a rapid shift to virtual learning, and we write today to provide you with details on some immediate steps that we are taking to address these realities.

We fully appreciate that these steps are significant. But until we can better understand the full impact of COVID-19 on the economy, financial markets and the university, these steps are essential to our being able to sustain our commitment to our employees and our students and to ensuring that Cornell has the funds necessary to continue to be a world-class university.

The most frequent concerns that we have heard regard pay continuation for staff and whether we will be able to support students whose financial circumstances may have changed as a result of COVID-19. In implementing the steps outlined below, our goal is to preserve the vast majority of staff positions within our Cornell community until we can return to full campus operations, recognizing that no institution, including Cornell, can predict today the impact of this crisis on its future budget. We have also provided staff an additional ten health and personal days to support them during this time.

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