It is a challenging time for higher education, with most schools having closed their campuses this Spring and switched to an online teaching format. In addition, many schools have canceled all on-campus events for this summer. And there is tremendous uncertainty as to what will happen come the Fall semester.
My employer, Villanova University, has not been exempt from any of the above. All this uncertainty creates angst, with people wondering whether they would be laid off or if they would still have health care coverage.
Well yesterday, the school went a long way towards alleviating some of those concerns.
In a letter to the campus community (you can read it here), Father Peter Donohue, the President, provided an update on some of the challenges the University is currently facing and detailed the measures being taken to support all members of our community and protect the University’s future.
First, some of the “bad” news:
- the school refunded students more than $16 million for room and board
- the cancellation of all spring and summer on-campus events and activities led to a considerable loss in expected University revenue
- There is speculation that colleges and universities could see a 10 to 20 percent reduction in their fall enrollment as a result. Like most higher education institutions, Villanova is heavily dependent on tuition for operational expenses. Therefore, any foreseeable decrease in enrollment is particularly concerning as the school looks toward August.
Given the financial impacts of these setbacks, the University felt it was imperative to undertake certain measures now to protect its employees and its students in the long run. It made its response based on the following considerations in mind:
- Significantly cutting costs while preserving jobs
- Providing students and their families with support during this time of unprecedented unemployment
- Holding true to its Catholic, Augustinian values by placing the needs of the community above the needs of the individual
Here is how the University responded:
- While furloughs had been considered for June and July, they have now been taken off the table. As an institution that prides itself on community, Father Peter believed it was vitally important that there is continued support for all employees during the summer regardless of workload.
- There will be no salary increases for fiscal year 2021.
- The 23 Augustinian friars working at Villanova collectively receive a monthly stipend as employees of the University. That stipend will be cut by 10%.
- The Cabinet, Deans, and President, along with approximately 60 senior staff and administrators, will have their pay reduced by 10 percent for the months of June and July.
- The University’s base contribution to the 403(b) Retirement Savings plan will be reduced by 20 percent for the next year.
- the University will continue its temporary hiring freeze with very limited exceptions.
- All University new construction and renovation projects are suspended for the time being.
A local news station picked up the story, and interviewed a couple of graduating students who had the following to say:
“It’s really cool to see the steps that have been taken. As an alumni, as weird as that is now to say, it makes you proud,” said one of the students.
“It stands with our Augustinian values,” said the other.
And one alum who happened to be on campus remarked:
“They’re trying to do right by their employees and by everyone and that’s exactly what I would expect from Villanova University.”
It is nice to work at a place where your employer is concerned not only with what you can contribute to the goals of the organization, but is concerned with your personal welfare as well.
So thank you, Villanova, for practicing what you preach.