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.

Revenue generating in house construction work

Submitted by Josh Cooley on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:45

What is the reasoning as to why FCS is not allowed to hire temporary trades people to do departmental work in house rather than allow that work to be contracted out? It would appear that if we are doing that work in house with our FM project group a portion of the money spent on those projects, while expense to the particular department, would be revenue to FM-FCS (University department) instead of 100% of that money spent leaving the University by contracting it out. Surely we were not in the business of doing that type of work and losing money on it. It would seem that the cost of having a temporary tradespersons on staff dedicated to departmental work would not exceed the hourly rate that they bill out. The argument that if we don't do the work in house the money won't get spent on this type of work has proven not to be the case over and over again. The work still happens. That type of work budgeted at around $350,000 or less is generally less expensive to do with our FCS-FM projects groups as the overhead of design, project management, and contract management are considerably less than when work goes out to bid. Factor in at cost material and now comparable labor rates to contractors, the understanding of our capabilities and the discretion used to only execute the work we can do in a fiscally responsible manner to the University and what you have is a win/win situation for the units within the University, the employees doing this work, as well as the University as a whole. 

Furthermore, if we are looking at a reduction in spending towards this work in the future, wouldn't now be the time to organize a temporary labor force to accommodate all the work that is currently out there? We are talking about reductions and cutting and appear to be completely overlooking this opportunity to bring more revenue in.



Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:43 (user name hidden)

Yes, do that now through then end of July so we can also receive the additional $600 a week plus unemployment.  This would benefit everyone including helping the University.


Voluntary reduced hours/furloughs

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:39 (user name hidden)

Has the university leadership considered reaching out to staff members to see if there would be any interest in voluntary reduction in work hours/furloughs?


Very Dissappointed

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:39 (user name hidden)

It would be nice if Cornell would use some of the endowment and consider anyone that has 25+ years and meets the 55 and 10 criteria to be offered a one-year salary and one-year retirement contribution incentive. The thought of coming back to campus and risking our health is nerve racking. I agree that that the best approach is to allow the employees to decide if a retirement or pay cut would be best for their individual situations. Those of us that have been employed with Cornell for a long time and are close to retirement will not be able to bounce back as quickly as the younger generation.


So let me get this straight

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:39 (user name hidden)

Admin on tapping the endowment: "We can't possibly do that, it permanently decreases available funds and leads to having to cut expenses later! This is a totally unreasonable thing to ask of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise!"
Also admin: "Endowed staff will get no contributions to their retirement accounts this year, permanently decreasing their available funds and leading to expense cuts later. This is a totally reasonable thing to ask of heavily-indebted employees for whom the retirement contribution was part of the explicit hiring contract and implicit social contract!"


Other considerations on furloughs

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-06-12 08:04 (user name hidden)

Has the university leadership considered an across the board short term furlough of one to two weeks for all faculty and staff to help reduce longer term furloughs and layoffs?  What savings might a this option provide?



Submitted by Anonymous Committee Member on Fri, 2020-06-12 07:09 (user name hidden)

After listening to the video, I was very disappointed to see that faculty were not impacted by this message.  Academic posting continues to be posted while non-academic position has been frozen for the majority.

Nothing ever changes it is always the staff that are affected.  Faculty are still getting promotions and summer salary. Many faculty, are getting more in summer salary than staff make in one year.

What do the staff get possible furlough, layoff, or reduction in salary.  Staff are the ones that are behind the faculty. 

Cornell University has a $7.3 Billion in Endowments.  Listening to Paul, I understand why you do not want to use the Endowments.  However, maybe you should.  We heard the same thing in 2008/2009 about the Endowment. It is time to use it and stop reducing staff and staff salary.    

I support both Scenario #1 Full Residential Hybrid Instruction and $98M



Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Thu, 2020-06-11 23:18 (user name hidden)

Between the loss of SIP and now CURP I'm looking at nearly $16K income loss in our single income household in this year alone, not including lost compounded growth.  As I reflect on the 39 hours of benefits for exempt employees that never returned to 40 hours of benefits, you'll have to forgive me for being skeptical that we'll see a return of 10% CURP next FY.  One of the reasons that many exempt employees accept a lower salary than private enterprise would afford and opt to live in a very highly taxed state, is the CURP contribution.  It goes without saying that Cornell is gambling when it comes to knowing the impact CURP reductions will have on retaining staff who have highly marketable and necessary skill sets. 


Contract College Feedback

Submitted by Angelica Keen on Thu, 2020-06-11 21:50

As a contract college member, neither one of these options are more equitable than the other. In the contract side we already pay more for health insurance than the endowed, have no vision plan, no access to the gyms on campus, and are required to put in funds for the NYS plan. As someone who worked on both sides, I actually took a pay cut moving over to the contract side although the salary was slightly more. The current deductions already impacting current monthly pay, an additional paycut would be even more difficult. 

The effect of removing funds for the immediate without the SIP for contract college employees, doesnt take into account the current situation of prices inflating with the pandemic. To have access to even less funds immediately can cause issues with access to child care, paying mortgage/rent, commuting costs, and other basic necessities. Due to high costs of living some staff members have addtional part time jobs, our household surely does, which were affected due to the recent shut down. 

In removing retirement funds for endowed employees does have a larger long-term implications however does not impact the staff members directly during the 2021 fiscal year.

If a plan moves forward, it should impact the staff equally in the same manner. 


Retirement Cut (Endowed) VS. Pay Cut(Contract)

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Thu, 2020-06-11 17:43 (user name hidden)

Cornell Leadership - If I am understanding your proposal correctly, you are proposing the following in every scenario ...

Endowed Employees - no Cornell retirement contributions (10% of salary) for FY 2021 

Contract Employees - pay reduction of 1 - 5% based on pay range with some employees not having any reduction

If my understanding is correct, I am VERY concerned about this proposal as it does not appear to be equitable between Endowed and Contract employees.  Endowed employees would not only lose the retirement contribution for FY 2021, but they would also lose any compounded growth of that money for years to come, while Contract employees would be faced with a short-term one year deficit. Furthermore, I am struggling to understand how an effecitve 10% "reduction" of retirement income for Endowed employees is equal to a 1 - 5% pay reduction for Contract employees.  

I know these are difficult decisions to make and you are doing your best to make the "right" decision. My request is that whatever your decision is, please make sure it is equitable regardless if the employee is an Endowed or Contract. 

Perhaps the best approach is to allow the employee to decide if a retirement or pay cut would be best for their individual situation.