UM President: Financial impacts and planning due to COVID-19

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On April 16, 2020

UM System President Mun Choi and the chancellors at the four universities sent the following message to staff and faculty on April 14.

Dear faculty and staff,

As we brace for the predicted peak in coronavirus cases in our country, we continue to appreciate your sacrifice and resiliency in supporting social distancing policies while also continuing the vital missions of our universities.

We are tremendously proud of your response and your commitment to our students, our communities and our state.

We continue to monitor the situation at the global, national, state and local levels and are closely watching the potential financial impact this historic pandemic may have on our institutions. While the exact toll is not yet known, it is clear our major sources of funding will remain under stress and uncertainty for the short-term and into the future. We need to prepare for a broad range of financial outcomes. As President Choi mentioned at a recent Board of Curators meeting, it is possible the loss could reach $180 million across the UM System’s four universities, for FY21 and beyond.

Throughout our history, our universities have been known for their resilience and commitment to the people of Missouri. In that tradition during this critical time for our state, our universities are now doing what they have for generations: searching for solutions, serving critical needs and providing the highest quality education for our students. We now enter a new phase in support of those unwavering commitments.

We must plan for severe financial challenges for the next 60-90 days, with forward-looking realism about potential longer term impacts. As has been mentioned in previous communications, our short-term priorities include: ensuring continued high-quality education, retaining and recruiting students, performing research and scholarship that address the public health crisis and support precision health, sustaining the University’s response to the public health crisis and other engagement activities and maintaining activities that sustain or grow revenues for the universities.

We plan further prudent fiscal actions, including:

  1. The president, chancellors, their cabinet members, and deans are taking 10% salary cuts beginning May 1 through at least July 31.
  2. We have asked many other senior leaders and administrators throughout our universities to take 10 percent salary cuts for the same upcoming time period. We know we will be overwhelmed by the participation of our dedicated leaders.
  3. Contingency plans for an average of up to 15% cuts must be quickly created, requiring several options to be considered, including layoffs, unpaid leaves, restructuring, strict cost containment and other measures. These options will be evaluated at each university. Some decisions must be made by April 30 to address the FY20 deficits, and to work toward a budget for FY21 to be completed by June 7.
  4. We will remain on a 60- to 90-day planning timeline, and will revisit the FY21 budget beginning in July to adjust our plans dependent upon the circumstances.
  5. We will continue previous cost cutting actions enacted last month, including the elimination of merit increases and reclassifications as well as severe restrictions on spending and hiring.
  6. We will continue to share information as quickly as possible.

We take these difficult steps for the benefit of our institutions and for generations to come. We must be good fiscal stewards, while also remaining mindful of financial pressures on families. That is why we prioritized returning $25 million throughout the UM System to students and families for refunds and discounts on room and board.

We came into this crisis well-managed fiscally and we will take necessary actions to maintain our flexibility to invest in excellence in student success, research and creative works and engagement.

Our universities have always served the people of Missouri and we will use our collective commitment to that purpose to guide the way through the difficult choices that lie ahead.

We are all in this together more than ever before. We continue to be grateful for the strength and talent of our University communities to rise to this unprecedented occasion.


Mun Y. Choi, President, UM System and Interim Chancellor, MU
C. Mauli Agrawal, Chancellor, UMKC
Mohammad Dehghani, Chancellor, Missouri S&T
Kristin Sobolik, Chancellor, UMSL

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On April 16, 2020. Posted in Announcements, Coronavirus