Update to faculty and staff: Important Update for Our Community

May 18, 2020

Dear SNC Faculty and Staff,

As I shared with you on April 30, our plan is to safely and joyfully reopen and reunite physically on campus this fall. Still, for now, these are difficult times. Summer programs have been canceled. Campus operations are slowing down in many areas and already are at a standstill in some. And we continue to keep top of mind the two primary variables that will determine our path forward: our final enrollment for the coming academic year and final decisions about the mode of academic delivery for the fall semester.

Although the college has maintained a position of financial strength, the current significant and unexpected financial challenges, if not steadily addressed, will threaten this position. As the college plans for a new budget year in a time of immense uncertainty, the president’s cabinet has developed several planning scenarios that would have varying levels of impact on the college’s finances, on our work and staffing, and on our teams and employees. While the scenarios vary significantly (to account for uncertainty), today we presented to the Board of Trustees a planning scenario, for the fiscal year 2021 that accounts for an estimated 10 percent reduction in overall revenue. Based on what we know today about federal, state, county, and public health guidelines; our goal of returning to in-person instruction in the fall; and our progress, to date, with both new and continuing student enrollment, we believe this budget is feasible and responsible.

Out of a profound responsibility to protect our future, it is time to take a few new steps. In addition to reductions in non-personnel expenses, a pause on 2021 salary increases, a freeze on hiring for most open positions unless doing so will significantly compromise essential work, and an increase in unrestricted endowment distributions, we will begin to implement temporary furloughs beginning June 1. Approximately 115 employees will be placed on temporary unpaid furlough until the college’s normal operations resume. Those employees will be notified by Friday, May 22.

Furlough guidelines have been developed to provide a framework for this process. I’m attaching here a Guidelines on Position Furloughs document, where you will find more detailed information.

Further, due to reorganization and changes in operational efficiencies, we will be eliminating several positions. Staff impacted by position elimination will also be notified by Friday, May 22. Consistent with our institutional values and our respect for personal dignity, we will be working with each impacted employee to provide support as they prepare to leave the college and seek new employment.

The cabinet continues to keep the College’s financial situation under review and may need to take further steps regarding budget, furloughs, and staffing efficiencies as they become necessary. As always, we do so mindfully, sensitively, and in alignment with our values.

Colleagues, each and every one of you, and each and every team that makes up our community is equally important to St. Norbert College. We serve as the Body of Christ in this place, as always and forever. Simultaneously, at this time, we’re sorrowfully aware that some of the decisions we make must, unavoidably, be driven by budgetary considerations. The sacrifices we’re asking from you are considerable. We recognize that truth. It’s also important to acknowledge that for the time being those sacrifices are falling in different ways across the college. For some of you, your workload continues to be considerably greater than usual, week in, week out. For others, your work is conducted in difficult, perhaps limiting, often frustrating and very stressful circumstances. For yet others, the burden is felt most strongly in a temporary or even permanent loss of employment, in a loss of your paycheck, and/or in the satisfaction that comes with going to work every day and offering your best. While the challenges might be felt unevenly from person to person and from month to month, I recognize there is nothing uneven about the overall sacrifices you are making and the heroism you are showing both now, in the short term, and for the long-term future and flourishing of our beloved St. Norbert College.

I say again, you are remarkable. I ­thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued prayers and support as we navigate an unprecedented time in the world’s history – in our own St. Norbert College’s history – and stay focused on our ever-ancient mission to serve students and our community with unwavering care, academic excellence and guided by our faith.