Important College Updates

April 30, 2020

Dear SNC Community,

As I survey with deep affection our college community at the end of the semester, I am profoundly grateful for all that I see. I see students continuing to work hard, remain positive, and show impressive focus as they move to the close of this semester’s studies. I see faculty and staff rising up to unimagined challenges, showing extraordinary resilience, and demonstrating their commitment, as always, to the best possible experience for our students. I see all of you supporting one another. Behind all this I see, too, the unavoidable stress imposed by these strange circumstances and the ways these new stressors are uniquely impacting every one of you, often in complex ways. My gratitude and appreciation is boundless for each one of you, and for all you have accomplished. Your efforts, reflecting your evident love for St. Norbert College, give me hope as we continue to navigate this pandemic together and plan for a healthy future.

Financial Update, Planning for the Future, and Opening this Fall

With final exams less than two weeks away, I am pleased to report that the financial steps we have already taken will allow us to end this fiscal year in a strong position. Through careful stewardship, we are poised to finish this fiscal year, ending May 31st, balanced. This is a remarkable accomplishment given that we have issued room and board refunds; moved all courses to alternative delivery in less than one week’s time; cancelled or reconstituted all programs and events; and adeptly registered returning students while successfully recruiting new students. Our faculty and staff should be proud of their selfless response on behalf of the college, our current students and their families, and our future students. Please know I am grateful beyond words for your response, and I find myself increasingly more confident in our collective strength and with the unwavering belief we can and will successfully navigate this pandemic as a College.

For next fiscal year, the financial challenges will persist and likely worsen before it gets better, especially if the economy does not recover swiftly. And although it seems as if COVID-19 and the pandemic it has created has been a reality for a long time already, the science and experts tell us we are still at the beginning stages of this crisis and need to steel ourselves for a prolonged recovery, one that will likely include setbacks along the way. Further complicating matters for the College are the many unknowns, among them: What will our new and continuing student enrollment look like in fall? How much revenue will we lose through cancelled events and other revenue-producing operations affected by COVID-19? What trajectory will the COVID-19 virus take? How will governments attempt to manage its path? Governor Evers’ extension of the Safer At Home order (to May 26) and the Badger Bounce Back plan make it clear we need to take further steps to ensure we will emerge from this crisis in a strong position.

Let me be clear: Our plan is to safely and joyfully reopen and reunite physically as a campus this fall! Given the many uncertainties and variables, we are also building necessary contingency plans. As we review various scenarios for the upcoming year, we must be nimble and prepared for whatever lies ahead, continuing to remain unwavering in our mission while securing the College’s health and vitality, our immediate and long-term future.

Among the many steps the College is taking to preserve our financial strength and remain poised for the future include: extending through 5/31/2021 the spending restrictions already in place; significantly reducing our operating expense budget (personnel and non-personnel); freezing compensation for the year; exploring additional endowment support; continuing to evaluate all capital projects; carefully reviewing operations for additional efficiencies; and reviewing all open positions. We are well-aware that many colleges and universities are implementing furloughs and reviewing staffing levels, options that we are also examining, as painful as they are to consider.

Our Community and Our Values

My team and I want each one of you to feel assured that as we navigate this pandemic we will do whatever we can to mitigate the negative impacts on our community. We are intensely, painfully mindful of the situation of our colleagues who have found it necessary to file for unemployment due to the current unavailability of work in their on-campus roles. These kinds of challenges will continue to affect us as we balance available resources against our ongoing commitment to always be strengthening the quality and vibrancy of the student experience; to safeguard the health and safety of our community; and to ensure the institutional health of this vibrant institution, securing and strengthening it now and into the future. Our core values, our sense of community, and our commitment to the common good are top of mind for me, the cabinet, our trustees and our founding order. These are the values that pervade our community, thanks to you all. They guide our decision-making and they, once again, will see us through.

We expect to know more as the situation develops in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, we have formed groups now actively working on a plan for bringing employees and students physically back together on campus again just as soon as is prudent.

A Few Additional Updates

  • We are giving prospective students and their families one additional month to make their final decisions about coming to SNC in the fall. They now have until June 1st to make the deposit that will secure their place at SNC. The admissions team and others across campus continue to creatively engage these audiences. We know we can rely on all of you to accept requests and chances for conversations with prospective students who have questions about the SNC experience or about the opportunities available in your areas.
  • The College will benefit from federal support through the CARES Act stimulus funding. Half of those resources will be directed toward providing financial relief for students. We know our students and families are being significantly impacted by the current state of the economy and it’s essential we continue to support their needs.
  • Our colleagues in College Advancement continue their important work. The ongoing generosity of friends of the college is of vital importance to our future and we could not be more grateful for their support. To that end, please know that our annual giving day – A Day to uKnight – has been rescheduled for May 12.

A Final Word

Please know your needs are constantly on my mind. Carol and I keep you in our hearts, our thoughts, and offer prayers of thanks for all that you are doing, as well as prayers for all struggling with the current uncertainties in our world and community. You are remarkable. We, as a community, are remarkable. We journey together and know our mission, everything we stand for, will carry us forward. I have never been more confident we will emerge from this current crisis stronger than ever.