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.

Even "Best" Case Scenario Crushes Staff

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 14:12 (user name hidden)

First staff lose their tiny SIP increases for the coming year, then we pause hiring for vacancies meaning that remaining staff will have to work harder/more hours (if salaried) for the same amount of money, then even the "best" case scenario proposed here takes away our retirement contributions for the coming year, which represents a cumulative effect greater than a 10% salary reduction. The salaried staff where I work are already asked to well beyond the standard 38-40 hours/week to get all our work done, so now there will be fewer members of our team, so we will work even more hours AND our ability to retire will efectively be pushed back for another year or more due to the lack of contribututions for the coming year.  Morale is already really low given everything going on this spring, isolation, stress trying to take care of children/homeschool them, fear over losing jobs, financial impacts of COVID, etc. Now Cornell will take away 100% of our retirement contributions for the coming year and give us more work to do, so I hope you realize morale is about to go into the toilet. If you care about staff you will find a way to still provide some amount of CURP, even if it's only a percent or two, and tap the endowment to some extent even at the $98 mil deficit level. Faculty may be the "brains" of the university, but staff are the backbone and you're about to break our backs.


Worrisome and disappointing

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 14:05 (user name hidden)

Listening to the presentation and reading the attached paperwork, it sounds as if pay cuts/retirement cuts are a done deal and that no option which does not include pay cuts for staff has reached the shortlist of potential paths. 

I echo many other people's feelings of being undervalued here. 



Submitted by Christa Downey on Fri, 2020-06-12 12:48

I realized my typo after submitting. I'm so burned up about this, I let the keys fly. 


These recommendations are short sited

Submitted by Christa Downey on Fri, 2020-06-12 12:47

This looks predetermined without much room for input, but I will share anyway.

It is shortsighted to take away retirement and not at least give people the choice to have it come from their salary rather than pre-tax investments. What is the harm to the university in offering choice to staff? Choice opens the possibility for keeping alive some sense of trust and community. Choice allows people to feel heard.

I’m most disappointed that choice is not an option. Within that context, I would much rather have a pay cut than a cut to my pre-tax investments. Looking beyond my own personal finances, I firmly believe retirement contributions should be an opt-out system for employees and that society benefits when people have the means to retire (opinion, I know). Eliminating employer contributions will mean some employees will choose not to contribute and are then more likely to need social services from the community in the future. It is a short sighted approach.

How is it in any collective body’s best interest to proceed in this way?

If individuals prefer a retirement contribution cut to a pay cut, that should be their right, but again – CHOICE. Imagine the trust and staff morale you might maintain if staff are given choice.


Are faculty contributing?

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 12:36 (user name hidden)

If the the university says we are all in this together, then I hope they are looking into faculty contributing to the cause as well with salary and/or retirement reductions. Faculty and staff are both employees to the university, and both contributing to the mission of the university. Please treat everyone equal and allow faculty to contribute to the cause as well rather than just staff trying to do more with less. Afterall, faculty are still able to receive promotions at this time, and staff positions are on freeze and now salaries/retirement are being considered to be reduced. I hope the university looks at all employees as equal and not just cut staff benefits.


CURP contributions are important

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 12:25 (user name hidden)

The cessation of contributions to CURP would be very destructive to employees' long-term retirement planning.  Many employees could not afford to totally make up the loss of CURP contributions by increasing their own TDA contributions.  Cornell works to encourage employees to contribute to TDAs, but many employees do not, partly because they live from paycheck to paycheck.  Younger employees will have the option to leave Cornell for better opportunities, but employees close to retirement may feel compelled to stay despite the setback and will have to work longer than expected.  Poor health may make that impossible, leaving them financially unprepared at retirement.  Employees also fear that a cessation to CURP contributions announced as temporary will become permanent or lead to a permanently lower employer contribution level.  Cornell needs to look honestly at the returns from discretionary spending.  Cornell should always demand significant results from its spending on projects and not maintain some projects without proof of strongly positive results.


Faculty and administrators too?

Submitted by Jeff Ceria on Fri, 2020-06-12 11:51

Hello, I am writing with a question (unfortunately I have not been able to watch the video recording of the zoom meeting). I wonder if this proposed budget cut will equally affect faculty and administration. I would also like to be reminded if the cancellation of the SIP for this year affects faculty and administration. The reason I am asking about these things is because I know that faculty are allowed to be promoted during this season, but staff are not. At a university that prides itself on equality, it would be unfortunate if these cuts were affecting only the lower paid people on campus. Thanks for any reply. 


Explain how faculty contribute to the Univ solutions?

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 11:29 (user name hidden)

As someone who worked on campus through multiple fiscal crises, I have yet to learn how - if at all - the faculty contribute to the "we are in this together" solution to financial hardship? While I get that we want to retain the top teachers and research funding, at this time of global hardship and many smaller institutions going under, there are not as many options for the faculty (particularly young faculty) to flee. I believe staff have been squeezed as far as possible, and still do so much with less and less. The faculty must contribute as campus community members, we staff have many fewer opportunities for generating revenue as faculty (who can do speaking, consulting, and many other earning potential activities). 

Every staff member can name higher level employees who have worked beyond their efficient work potential, and I would hope that there could be hard choices in assessment of the production for G level and higher faculty AND staff. If they are not contributing equitably, furlough or layoff those who are not able to keep up with workload, technology, or other aspects that can be measured.


Voluntary Reitrement Plan for Contract College

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 11:29 (user name hidden)

I am seeking additional information concerning the voluntary retirement plan for contract college staff:  First, is the six month incentive payment period added to your total time in NYSLRS, and secondly, what type of retirement contribution/compensation would the contract college receive?



Give us the option

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 11:15 (user name hidden)

As many have pointed out, the 10% CURP reduction seems far more severe of a cut than the 1-5% scaled cuts in the Contract College.

I, and other Endowed staff I spoke to, would like the option to have the pay reduction instead of the CURP reduction. For early-career employees, a huge retirement contribution cut like that now potentially means tens of thousands in losses in ~40 years. It's not an equivalent measure.

(It's also, needless to say, these staff pay/benefits cuts are already on top of the *actual* paycut due to no COL increase this year.)