Staff Feedback on Financial Update - 6/9/2020

Employee Assembly Meeting
June 9, 2020   |   3:45-5:00PM
Financial Update Presentation: Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer & Paul Streeter, Vice President for Budget and Planning
A recording of the meeting and presentation may be found on on the Meeting Detail page.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is facing financial difficulties that include a projected increase in undergraduate financial aid, an anticipated decrease of undergraduate and graduate tuition revenue due to lower student enrollment, and a reduction in state appropriations. Today's presentation from the administration will provide an update on what further steps will be taken to address the financial challenges.

  • Members of the staff community are invited to provide feedback and comments to the presentation and discussion provided during today's Employee Assembly meeting.
  • The EA will collect the feedback to share with the reactivation committees in advance of their reports that are due on June 15, 2020.
  • Feedback and public comment are welcomed through 5:00 PM on Monday, June 15, 2020.

This page contains comments posted by members of the staff community in response to the presentation made during the EA meeting on 6/9/2020. Before posting to this forum, please read the comments below to make sure that the information you are providing is pertinent to the discussion and has not already been addressed before. Comments containing inappropriate language, including but not limited to offensive, profane, vulgar, threatening, harassing, or abusive language, are subject to removal.


** Commenting is closed.

Very small cuts for everyone?

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Mon, 2020-06-15 13:31 (user name hidden)

Serious question. How much does the university spend on ALL (faculty AND staff) salaries? I assume it is a significant number. What would 1 or 1.5% of that number be? Considering that the average salary of Cornell faculty is over $200,000 it seems possible that if everyone took a 1.5% cut it could solve the problem with minimal pain for all. (?)


Early retirement incentive

Submitted by Christopher R. Baumunk on Mon, 2020-06-15 07:46

Dear Sir,

As for the retirement incentive, will the current Endowed 10 years service and 55 age be the guidelineds for the incentive? Or would there be looser restrictions for those close to retirerement age?

Thanks Chris Baumunk



Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Sun, 2020-06-14 08:10 (user name hidden)

Will faculty be subjected to the same cuts as staff? It really isn't fair if they are not.  


Salary reduction/retirement contribution suspension

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Sun, 2020-06-14 08:07 (user name hidden)

I am grateful for all the university has done to mitigate the effects of this crisis. But I believe that "taxing" all employees at the same percentage adversely impacts those in lower pay bands much more than those in higher ones. Lower pay band employees will feel the effects of this much more quickly than higher ones. This feels almost like a regressive tax.


Same standard 0-5% pay cut

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 21:06 (user name hidden)

Given I don't know the specific numbers, this may not be feasible, but I don't understand why the 1-5% pay cut (depending on the graduated threshholds that pay cuts would apply to) isn't a standard plan for both contract and endowed employees. Why the different treatment? I would greatly appreciate the option of keeping the retirement match even if that meant a small pay cut. I agree with those who have proposed giving the option depending on each person's priorities--either money going into retirement for long-term investment or maintaining pay levels for shorter-term needs.

Is it possible to hear where else cost savings may be happening on the personnel side, especially in faculty summer pay, similar reductions to pay/retirement for faculty, any consolidations in administraton levels? This would be helpful to feel like we are all feeling the pinch, although a 1-5% pay cut on someone who is a staff member (hourly or lower-band exempt employees especially) versus what a faculty members makes feels very different, but would still feel like every person is valued and appreciated for the work they do in more equitable ways. Are faculty similarly having their retirement match eliminated and/or a 1-5% pay cut?

Separate from this, if there was a way to determine more quickly which employees could or will remain remote, this could alleviate some stress on living expenses. I know personally that if I knew I could/would be remote or mostly remote, I would search for alternate housing further from campus that would be more cost effective. If I knew I didn't have to commute every day (or pay high parking fees if I wanted to be anywhere on campus) then this would make a pay reduction much more palatable because I could save a significant amount on my monthly rent.


Not Reimaging Cornell 2

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 17:04 (user name hidden)

As someone who lived through the Reimaging Cornell, I was very hopeful that Cornell would have a better approach to dealing with the current financial crisis.  I ask that Cornell be completely tranparent and involve employees in this major decision that impacts all of us.  There are so many voices who are not able to give their input today, because this was such a well kept secret. If we are truly all in this together, then the entire Cornell staff needs to be given an opportunity to provide their ideas and thoughts.  Together is the only way we can make it through this!


I think it is important to

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 17:02 (user name hidden)

I think it is important to reiterate that staff had little to no time to react to this. I understand the closed meeting but once done, it should have been widely shared for input. Now, it is just rushed.

What are the tax implications for salary reductions vs. retirement contribution reductions? short term and long term?

What about faculty? No cuts to their income? It reminds all staff where we stand in the eye of the university.



The university has a moral obligation to its staff.

Submitted by Anonymous Committee Member on Fri, 2020-06-12 17:00 (user name hidden)

It is unreasonable for the university to expect individual staff members to make sacrifices for it, when it has systematically and continually cut staff out of the decision-making process. Furthermore, requiring staff ingenuity (and, perhaps, benefiting from the panic that such a prolonged period of uncertainty has wrought) in making INDIVIDUAL cuts/decisions ("This might hurt the least, so I guess it's the best option") is unconscionable. (Equally unconscionable is perpetuating an environment that encourages staff or faculty to look at other essential members of this community as if they can be sloughed off like so much detritus, simply because the immense complexity of this place makes it hard to understand how others vitally contribute.)

The university must unequivocally vow to keep the people who it currently employs here. Not “whenever possible”, not “to the degree possible”. We are resourceful and creative - but it is inhumane to expect our flexibility and continued devotion to this place, if it will not make the same strong, unwavering commitment to us.


communication and equity

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 16:31 (user name hidden)

Thank you for sharing this information with the community and to the assembly and presenters for holding the meeting and sharing the recording. I am concerned that the method by which feedback was sought from staff was not as thorough as has been the case with faculty and students. I understand that this was scheduled as part of a regular Employee Assembly meeting, but wish that considering that this was such an important topic with far-reaching impacts was not better advertised among staff (I did not hear about this meeting until this morning) and that there was not an open meeting or a survey of staff similar to those that were offered to faculty. While I understand the need to manage budgets, and the reason that pay or retirement decreases will need to be implemented, I am concerned that both the method of sharing information and the fact that staff, but not faculty, are the ones being implemented demonstrates a lack of value placed on staff and our role at Cornell. Given the 4 priorities listed at the beginning of the presentation, it's not clear to me why staff salaries will be cut rather than both staff and faculty, as staff are critical in the 4 priorities - in particular caring for our student population and maintaining a world class educational facility. Staff are critical in offering support - academically, socially, healthcare, and in other arenas - to all Cornell students, including the student populations most at risk in these tumultous times. If the burden of reduced salaries is to be spread across Cornell - why not distribute it among all employees to reduce the overall impact each individual in the employee community? Please consider applying the 1-5% in salary reductions (amount varied by income level, as suggested) to all employees, rather than making this designation limited to staff. Staff and faculty are both critical to Cornell's mission - and that should be reflected in how the administration seeks input on planning decisions and budget measures, including salary/retirement reductions.


Furlough, morale

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 16:21 (user name hidden)

If the salary will be cut in every possible scenario, please do so via furlough. The benefit to the University will be the same but staff can use the difference for our children stuck at home with reduced daycare availability and spouses who also need to work, and reduce infection potential for those on campus. And also perhaps then the university will better understand the loss that such a cut represents when it manifests as missing labor.

For any who were in place for a promotion this year--already having been working at higher-level duties that necessitated changing a job description, and not recognized for it, for the year previous and now at least the year following--shall they return to working within the job title they're being paid for? It's hardly motivating to work more and more with less at the staff level, especially when the faculty were exempted from promotions the same time staff were barred from them--doubly so for those designated essential who have been exposing themselves to risk, doing the same level of work with reduced staff and people rotating in and out of quarantine, while faculty have generally stayed or been ordered to stay safe at home. To go immediately to across-the-board salary cuts even in the best-case scenario, while reserving the endowment as the emergency measure, shows very clearly where the perception of value is.

Each scenario cites student enrollment and student activity to determine how bad things are. For those enterprise units and units who have nothing to do with students--which contribute to the university coffers instead of taking from them--if the option existed to mitigate these measures by increasing profit over FY20, I guarantee Administration will see some concrete "Cornell creativity" instead of people building castles in the sky.