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Dear colleagues:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the University of Illinois System and on each of us. We are so proud of the dedicated efforts by our faculty and staff to ensure that our missions of teaching, research, public service and economic development have continued with excellence during these challenging times. And despite these stresses, we have taken on new work to combat the virus – pioneering research on medical devices and drug treatments, providing epidemiological modeling to state leaders, issuing data-rich policy analyses, and most importantly, caring for vulnerable patients at UI Hospital and clinics. 

Of course, the pandemic has had a financial impact on much of what we do. The three universities have incurred significant expenses to adapt to distance education and remote work. We also have incurred revenue losses from adjusting room and board and several fee charges to students, and from cancelled programs and clinic activities. 

Similarly, our hospital has incurred many unanticipated expenses in order to treat those afflicted with this disease, while at the same time experiencing a decline in patient care revenue because of the required focus on COVID-19 patients. 

We are grateful for federal funding provided through the CARES Act. Unfortunately, that funding will not be enough to cover our costs. The fiscal challenges are likely to deepen in the coming months as the impact of the pandemic continues.

To manage the financial impact prudently, we are asking all units across the U of I System to immediately:

  • curtail hiring and only fill vacant positions that are critical to our missions
  • reduce travel and related expenses
  • reduce non-personnel expenses, such as supplies and purchased services and
  • slow down or postpone capital projects, except for those that are strategically vital and those already in process

Each university will provide detailed instructions to implement these new guidelines and budget planning for the upcoming year that address their specific institutional structures and allow them to continue to provide world-class instruction, cutting-edge research and scholarship and positively impact the citizens of Illinois and beyond.

Regrettably, we will not be able to provide a regular, merit-based salary program for the upcoming academic year. Salary increments will be limited to compression, equity, and promotional adjustments only. If our financial circumstances turn out to be better than expected, we will reconsider this decision later in the year.

Finally, members of the senior executive teams of the University of Illinois System and of its three universities, will all be taking a 10 percent pay reduction for six months of the upcoming academic year. This includes the president, the system vice presidents, and the chancellors and vice chancellors of the universities. The savings will be used to augment an emergency aid relief fund we created to support students who face financial challenges due to the pandemic.

We believe these steps, if implemented diligently, will help us manage the financial shortfall we face without resorting to furloughs or significant layoffs, actions we hope to avoid unless the situation worsens.

We have faced financial difficulties before, most recently during the 2016-17 state budget impasse. Together, we made many hard decisions, but we advanced our missions and thrived amid adversity. We are confident that working together we can fight this pandemic and emerge even stronger among the nation’s top public university systems.

Once again, we want to thank you for your understanding, adaptability and dedication. We will keep you updated about our finances as we move forward.

Sincerely,

Tim Killeen
President, University of Illinois System

Barb Wilson
Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System

Avijit Ghosh
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, University of Illinois System

Robert J. Jones
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Michael Amiridis
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Susan J. Koch 
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield