06/08/2021 University Finance Update Staff Forum | Questions

June 8, 2021 Employee Assembly Staff Forum: University Finance Update


  1. Given that several COVID-19 financial measures have been moderately lifted or removed, what updates could you share about potentially lifting the salary freeze in FY22?

  2. We are supportive of the belt-tightening that was needed for the good of all when Covid hit. We also are hungry to use unrestricted discretionary funds in the department account to have a face-to-face one-day retreat with food, programming from on-campus departments and/or outside vendors, and appreciation shared among us. When might we be able to arrange using funds for this? Many are weary of being apart with remote work, and want to celebrate in this way, coming together as a joyful entry into the path forward to rejuvenate up our collective contributions to our program work.

  3. Will discretionary spending, including spending on food for business purposes, be reinstituted in FY 22 and if we don't know yet, when might we know?

  4. Does the lifting of the Discretionary spending restrictions mean that we no longer need to seek approval for all purchases?

  5. When will the hiring freeze end? Is there additional guidance on what it means for the discretionary spending constraints to be lifted? Can departments still set procedural requirements for faculty to seek pre-approval for all expenses?

  6. Many people took pay cuts and have experienced increased costs of living during the pandemic not covered by stimulus money. And many Cornell employees have gone above and beyond this past year to adapt and adjust in supporting the university’s mission. What is the current thinking about the salary improvement plan for FY22?

  7. Do we know if cost of living increases are coming back?

  8. We have alumni from the last 2 classes who feel like they’ve missed out on things during their program (i.e. social activities, swag, international study trips, etc.) so will we be able to consider using budget money now to offer these graduates some things in-person/items by mail even if they would be different than what they would have had during their actual time at Cornell?

  9. In prior forums, employees were told that the administration was doing all possible to avoid a reduction in force. Yet roles have been eliminated and employees have been laid off. What accounts for this and what can employees expect going forward? Should we be prepared for a potential reduction in force, and do you have a sense of where roles may be eliminated in the next fiscal year?

  10. When will the hiring freeze end?

  11. How do you justify the inequity created by the pandemic and being supported by the University, having allowed the higher paid staff and faculty work from home through the pandemic, while the most vulnerable and least paid staff was forced to come in and work in a potentially dangerous environment without being given hazard pay? This is typical classist behavior being perpetuated by those who do not assume the risk lower paid staff have assumed EVERY SINGLE day for the past 12 months.

  12. Some unionized employees received a raise last year. Will the university make up that difference for non-union employees this year?

  13. You are awesome Paul and will be greatly missed.  Enjoy your retirement!!!

  14. Did students who apply for financial aid not applying to Cornell or deferring their acceptance?

  15. Is there a projection of how much that $25 million in staff salary savings (no increases) will be compounded over the next decade?

  16. Can you tell us what are non-academic support positions that Paul Streeter mentioned in his presentation? Thank you.

  17. Will employees be receiving salary increases this year?  Due to the constraints of the past year we have many individuals thinking of leaving if increases do not happen in 2021.

  18. Why limit the position control process to non-academic support positions, rather than explicitly delineate based on funding type if growing costs are the concern (grant/restricted research funds vs. departmental or college funds)? Shouldn't all positions theoretically be subject to a process that determines how they fit within the University's larger goals?

  19. Can you share more about the time frame for these sustainable reviews for staffing?  Some offices were understaffed long term prior to the pandemic.  Those offices took on extra work this year in addition, working 12-14 hours a day, more than 5 days a week.  So while it may appear it is possible to do the work with the number of staff, those staff are actually exhausted and it isn't sustainable.

  20. Does the FY22 budget include SIP for staff? Will the no SIP of FY21 be included in FY22 or subsequent Fiscal Years?

  21. Communications is key during tough times.

  22. Will the new position management process be used for all fund sources, i.e., or will there be a different review for positions supported by sponsored and other restricted funds?

  23. Where does the Financial Shared Services consolidation process stand?

  24. How we can we continue to increase enrollment but delay to invest in the infrastructure of teaching - for example Baker Lab 200 which hasn't been renovated in many years and is falling apart?

  25. Will Paul's powerpoint be made available?

  26. Will the actual spending request steps process be scaled back? It is very time-consuming and difficult to get invoices paid with the new process, even with department head approval.

  27. What is going to be done to retain employees if you cannot offer salary increases?

  28. I may have missed this, but will SIP's be reinstated this year?

  29. It would be helpful to hear about functional review outcomes for departments we collaborate with. For which areas are functional reviews still ongoing, and when can results be shared? Thank you.

  30. There has been discussion about employees who will remain remote may receive a one-time stipend to assist with setting up there home office.  Is Cornell considering a one-time stipend to assist employees who have been remote for the past year recoup costs of establishing a remote office?

  31. Some staff asked for an in-person gathering with food etc., a reset event for a fresh start.  But since we don't know who's got vaccine, we have also not spent on food etc., what is university's guideline for such event?

  32. Is it possible to give employees back the money that was withheld from their salaries during the Fall 2020 semester? Maybe as people leave the university or as they retire, the university gives that person back the money. In this way, it spreads the total cost out for the university over many years but still gives employees back the salary that was taken.

  33. Can you clarify if some employees will see raises or SIP in their July paychecks? The timing seems unclear as to when those may be considered or implemented.

  34. While this presentation reflects a success story of adaptibility, with staff departures and the freezing of new-hiring, as a suprevisor I'm witnessing burn-out of my staff. How and when will the Functional Review Process support teams on campus who have lost staff and as a result have been over-worked since the university’s austerity around finances and hiring post-COVID?

  35. Who will be overseeing the hiring control process moving forward? Is it determined on a college/unit basis or more centrally?

  36. The endowment payout is scheduled to decrease slightly for FY22.  Given the tremendous investment returns this year (35% by some measures), has there been any discussion to maintain the FY21 rate instead?

  37. Staff are being asked to do a lot to support faculty and students who "have missed out" because of the pandemic. Some of the feedback is quite harsh. What support is available to staff as we work to manage all of these requests? Will additional FSAP support be available?

  38. Given the financial outlook, will remote work be considered as a form of compensation especially in areas where retaining talent is key?

  39. Will people who were awarded promotions prior to the hiring freeze, etc., due to the pandemic, be promoted this year?

  40. Thanks very much to our University leadership for making it possible for all of us to have positions and take great care of our students. I'm so proud to work at Cornell University. Everyone has been amazing.

  41. Hi it's Kit, I know Andrea you were forwarding the parking question to Transportation, can we get it addressed in this public forum to help disseminate information?

  42. I'd lke to thank all those involved in making difficult decisions about how the University would operate during the height of the pandemic. I think Cornell has done an exemplary job at leading the community through the pandemic and made careful, educated, and calculated decisions on the fly. Thanks to all involved and thanks to the Cornell community for hanging in there and showing strength when we needed it most.

  43. Paul, in what way would the current situation with China impact our tuition or research finances? Are there plans to mitigate that?

  44. For individuals who carpool, could additional daily parking passes be provided?

  45. Why do employees have to pay for campus infrastructure?

  46. Why should EMPLOYEES fund university infrastructure, i.e., roads, and NOT the university budget!?!?

  47. When can we expect to see SIP if you decide to provide it for 2021-2022?

  48. Will there be any change in TCAT bus access linked to our staff ID?  I believe Cornell pays our bus fares but those working from home are using the bus much less.

  49. Will additional guidelines be coming out for continued remote or hybrid work for non-academic positions such as admin., financial, IT, other?

  50. I think many, possible the majority, of staff are grateful for all the hard work that Senior Leadership did to keep us employed and safe!

  51. Thank you all for your incredible guidance!

  52. I think Cornell has done a great job during this pandemic!  Thank you!

  53. Thanks so much everyone!  I am also so proud of how Cornell handled this crazy unpredictable situation!  Such a great place to work!