April 6, 2020 - Planning for responsible fiscal stewardship

Dear University Community,

I am proud of the way in which our students, faculty and staff have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic – bravely supporting each other as our daily lives have been altered in a manner unimaginable just four weeks ago.

Students and faculty transitioned to remote/online learning in record time. Students with limited options were allowed to remain in campus housing, while those who moved home were given significant refunds. Student workers who could not work remotely were given 30 days of paid administrative leave – the same as that of our regular staff members. Online fees have been waived and scholarships added for summer school. Our new Triton Emergency Fund is helping students meet urgent financial needs, whether they be baby formula, rent, utility payments or transportation.

These and other actions have been taken to support students and employees despite increased financial stress. But, as I wrote in my note on March 27 and the note I co-signed with UM System President Mun Choi today, it is critical that we exercise responsible fiscal stewardship.

Therefore, I have asked the deans and unit leads to review their operations and prepare fiscal recommendations to maintain the integrity and quality of our institution in an environment of reduced revenue. The guiding priorities for planning and decisions will remain:

  • Ensuring our students receive a high-quality education.
  • Supporting retention and recruitment of our students.
  • Continuing sponsored research and scholarship, especially related to the public health crisis and precision health.
  • Supporting the university’s response to the public health crisis and other engagement activities.
  • Supporting activities that grow revenues for the university.

During this accelerated process, I will consult with the University Assembly Budget and Planning Committee, Student Government Association, Provost’s Council and UMSL’s Executive Policy Group to garner ideas and opinions. We also have established a budget planning website that will contain information and updates.

This is not just a reaction to a recent cut in state support – but an effort to determine the best way forward from the overall financial stress and ongoing operational safety concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With immediate and informed action, I am certain that we will emerge from this with our core strengths intact and a better pathway forward to serve our students and community as an elite public metropolitan university.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives – but not our spirit. Together, we will persevere.

Sincerely,

Kristin Sobolik
Interim Chancellor and Provost