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Presidential Memos

Memos and other communications from University of Idaho President C. Scott Green and his leadership team are sent periodically to the university community.

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 6, 2020
SUBJECT:  Aug. 1 Commencement Canceled


Many communities across our state and region have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases. Some have taken a step back in their reopening plans including the city of Moscow, which is now requiring face coverings in public. This is a reminder that it is imperative we all work together to stay as safe and healthy as possible and why we continue to require face coverings in all of our buildings on campus and throughout the state.

A recent analysis of those who planned to attend the Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony revealed that over 40% would be traveling from counties in our region experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. Unlike our preparations for the fall where we will be testing students for COVID-19, we are not able to test all of the graduates, relatives and friends who would have been making the trip to Moscow. Because of this, we are canceling our Aug. 1 Commencement ceremony. We simply can’t risk bringing in hundreds of people from hotspots throughout the region for one weekend without the ability to identify those who may be ill — it isn’t fair to our community. We will, however, recognize the many accomplishments of the Spring and Summer 2020 graduates with personalized video messages and social media attention beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1.

In a few short weeks, we will welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. We will test all of our students as they return to the Palouse, giving us a baseline to work from. We have detailed plans for isolating and helping any student who becomes ill and/or tests positive. Starting today, all faculty, staff and students need to acknowledge the Healthy Vandal Pledge when signing onto VandalWeb. The pledge includes wearing masks inside campus buildings, self-checks and isolation when necessary.

No one is more excited to have students back on campus than I am, and no one is more concerned about the safety of our entire Vandal Family than me. Months of planning have gone into making our campus, centers, research and Extension sites as safe as possible. We will meet or exceed CDC and Idaho Department of Health guidelines. If each of us does our part, we can identify, isolate and protect our community, just as we did this past spring. We are a destination campus, and that has been true for 130 years. We cannot thrive as an online-only option. Many students are delaying, avoiding, even changing their choice of where they are currently enrolled based on whether their instruction will be solely online or will be offered through live or hybrid instruction. Faculty interaction is key to the great work we do here — the work our students deserve.

We recognize that the current situation is dynamic, and we stand prepared to go solely online should we find ourselves unable to keep our community safe. We will continue to communicate often. We are Vandals, and we will stay strong and persevere.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  July 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  Recapping Our Budget Challenges and Decisions


When I returned home a year ago, I knew we faced budget challenges. What I didn’t know was the full magnitude of these issues and how we would be further challenged by a global pandemic. While this has been exhausting for all of us, what I have found at every turn is a Vandal Family that cares deeply about this university. Each of you is dedicated and determined to do what is best for our students, our state and each other. For that, I am grateful. In summary, we have accomplished much together. We have:

  • Reduced our operational spending in FY20, not only hitting our $14 million reduction target but, excluding one-time expenses due to COVID-19 and the voluntary separation programs, exceeded it.
  • Cut our cash burn rate by $13 million, or over half, including the impact on our cash inflows due to COVID-19 (and may be even better once we close the books).
  • Reduced our Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities by $11 million. This will be recognized in our FY21 financial statements.
  • Passed a budget that, depending on any lingering effects on enrollments due to COVID-19, should eliminate our deficit by FY22.
  • Produced a new budget allocation model that will be more sustainable because it will tie funding to enrollments, persistence, collaboration and efficiency, all characteristics of successful educational institutions.

The details of these successes are provided below.

Reducing Expenditures by $14 million for FY20

We went into FY20 with significant increases to employee benefit costs and a projected tuition revenue shortfall. We also needed to improve our net position to meet new accounting requirements reflecting future obligations to university retirees. We knew we could not address the full deficit in one year but did make $14 million in cuts to the FY20 budget.

We worked together, holding each college and unit accountable for preserving accumulated cash and reducing expenditures. This level of attention reduced spending and controlled budgets enough to realize the full $14 million reduction to our operating expenses, excluding the one-time costs of implementing the VSIP and ORIP programs. The full cost of those programs was recognized this year, but the benefit will be recognized in financial statements over the next two fiscal years.

Simultaneously, we kicked off our first working group — the Sustainable Financial Model Working Group. After several months of work and refinement, the whitepaper proposing a new funding model is now available for your comments. We will solidify the metrics to be used and model this plan through FY21 and implement it in FY22.

The state, feeling the effects of a slowing economy, implemented a 1% holdback in late 2019. In response to this one-time event, we implemented voluntary furlough, which many of you graciously participated in, allowing us to meet this holdback without permanent cuts. COVID-19 certainly prevented more people from taking voluntary furlough as we pivoted to the new normal. However, we did realize about $300,000 of this goal, with the rest funded from the operational savings achieved in excess of our $14 million target. The state also told us to prepare for a potential 2% holdback in FY21, which did indeed come to fruition.

We revamped our Other Post-Employment Benefits to phase out full benefit coverage for certain future retirees, while keeping our commitment to those who already have retired. We were the only institution in the state and among our peers to offer such a robust program. This change will result in a reduction of OPEB liability of $11 million that will be recognized in our FY21 year-end balance sheet.

Permanent Cuts and Additional Challenges in FY21

The $14 million in budget cuts from FY20 were made permanent in FY21 along with an additional $8 million needed to eliminate our operating deficit.

Again, this was not easy, but together we found ways to make it happen.

To help us meet this goal, we provided two opportunities for faculty and staff to benefit from early separation from the university. The Voluntary Separation Incentive and Optional Retirement Incentive programs resulted in more than 110 of our colleagues participating. While no amount of money can replace the institutional knowledge and dedication of this group, their departure does equate to $8.4 million in salary savings and $3.1 million in fringe benefit savings. In addition to these voluntary separations, colleges and units unfortunately were forced to issue non-renewals to 39 faculty and staff to reach their budget targets (including 13 faculty non-renewals for contracts that end in FY21).

I am grateful for the years of dedicated service these Vandals have given and wish each well as they leave the university for retirement or the next chapter of their journey.

We outsourced the textbook portion of the VandalStore, keeping the remaining services with the talented VandalStore team. The buying power of our new partner, Texas Book Company, enabled the university to turn a loss-making activity into a revenue stream. We reviewed outsourcing some of our facilities work, but in the end decided this was not the best way to proceed.

We fulfilled our annual requirement to review all academic programs through the Program Prioritization process. This was done simultaneously with college budgeting; the impacts of one is intertwined with the other. We asked everyone to be intentional in rehiring and document any requests to rehire. In many cases, you have chosen to help curb costs by pausing any hiring. That effort doesn’t come without work — each of you has been asked to pick up slack and take on extra duties. Thank you for putting the university first.

Impacts of COVID-19

Just as we were getting our feet under us and looking forward to putting our financial challenges behind us, coronavirus hit our world, our state and our university. With unprecedented speed and agility, university faculty moved more than 4,000 class sections online in less than a week. Asking students to not return to campus from Spring Break no doubt protected those most vulnerable in our community, but it also came with financial strain. Refunds for housing, parking and other student services began to gnaw away at the gains we had made. We experienced losses in revenue from canceled events and increases in expenses as we moved rapidly to improve technology to support online course loads.

Then the state of Idaho implemented a 5% holdback as revenues across the state plummeted due to COVID-19 response, including stay-at-home orders and business closures, and that caused us to implement a mandatory furlough for the coming fiscal year rather than eliminate more positions.

CARES Act money from the federal government first provided some cash to our Spring and Summer 2020 students. A second allotment of $3.4 million came to the university to help offset some of the costs associated with the pandemic. This federal money was welcome, but it fell well short of covering the impact the campus closure has had and will have on our university. We anticipate losses could exceed $15 million, depending on the impact COVID-19 has on fall enrollment.

To help meet the setback from COVID-19 we implemented mandatory furlough for all employees. Furlough assignments are based on your salary and are available for viewing in VandalWeb. For more details about furlough, visit the FAQ.

Other resources are available, and we continue to apply for funding to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 but also to help us invest in things such as technology (high-speed internet, primarily) at our Extension sites to enable students to succeed wherever they are in our state.

While we have made cuts and adjustments in some areas, we have continued to invest in fundraising and marketing — with the needs of our students at the forefront. We raised more than $650,000 during Vandal Giving Day, smashing previous records, and are using those resources to encourage students to join our great institution this fall. It seems to be working. Last weekend we welcomed 138 prospective students to our Moscow campus to experience what a residential campus has to offer. Our Advancement team has also raised over $48 million this year, the second highest total in our history, to further fund scholarships, research and telling our story. While almost all of this money is restricted by donors for a specific purpose and not available for general operations, it is important for laying the foundation for our future. This result has paid for our investment in this talented team many times over.

Our public-private partnership (P3) opportunity is hitting high gear. The request for proposals was posted this week, and we are working with four finalists who will visit Moscow this summer to better understand our utility infrastructure and help them frame a proposal to best serve our needs. This 50-year lease will provide the university with cash up front that we will place in an endowment. The earnings and amortization of principal will be invested in our students in the form of scholarships and online support, in research and in telling our story, as well as funding a capital maintenance plan for the steam plant.

The Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena is taking shape, and we are moving closer to seeing the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) become a reality. Why are we continuing these endeavors in the face of the budget challenges? These capital projects are funded by gifts, the State of Idaho and student fees, not through operational dollars. If we did not spend these dollars on this infrastructure, we would have to return it to the donors, state and students. Seeing a new building go up is inspiring and hopeful when so many other things are challenging us. These buildings are part of our future — our positive and productive future.

I am excited about the potential of the University of Idaho. As you have read, we have accomplished so much this year despite all that was thrown at us. Not only is our long-term future bright, but in the near term, I can’t wait to see our students back on campus and in our classrooms in August. There is no doubt we will have challenges. But it is imperative we plan for all contingencies, stay flexible and work together to continue to provide the quality residential academic experience our students want and expect. As a destination campus, the University of Idaho cannot thrive without it. Our success depends on the Vandal Family continuing to work together, putting our students and university first.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  June 18, 2020
SUBJECT:  Mandatory Furlough Plan for FY21


As I shared last month, the University of Idaho is implementing mandatory furlough to meet the 5% budget holdback from the state of Idaho for FY21. This holdback is a result of the COVID-19 impact on state revenue and is in addition to a 2% base funding reduction already passed by the Legislature this spring.

Furlough is one tool for decreasing expenses. This is something I wish we didn’t have to do, but it cuts costs while retaining jobs. The furlough plan, developed with input from faculty and staff, could protect as many as 40 jobs across the university. If we all participate, contribute to the solution, and if the state does not make these holdbacks permanent, we can address our financial shortfall with these one-time measures.

Following the May 11 communication introducing the furlough plan, we received feedback from the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and other university employees. I want to thank those who provided many (and greatly varied) recommendations. We are making these modifications to that original plan based on your feedback:

  1. The base furlough will be reduced for all employees from 24 hours to eight hours.
  2. The provost and I will take furlough at the equivalent of 8% of our salaries. This is beyond what is required under the furlough plan formula.
  3. Exempt staff and faculty have the option to take a salary reduction in place of furlough hours; however, they cannot be mixed. Salary reduction will result in the same amount of lost salary as furlough and the decrease will be spread over the furlough period (June 28, 2020 to Jan 23, 2021). You must make your choice by 5 p.m., Thursday, July 2, according to the instructions that will be available in VandalWeb. In addition, no employee will be allowed a salary reduction if doing so would put the university in violation of applicable law. Salary reductions are not possible for classified staff due to the hourly nature of their work.
  4. We recognize performance expectations must adjust accordingly for furlough hours. However, exempt employees are expected to prioritize their time and efforts to best meet the goals of the unit and the university. It is a priority that classes not be canceled and that the overall student experience be impacted as little as possible. How individual faculty and staff meet this priority remains a valid performance measure.
  5. Affected employees may file an appeal through the grievance processes outlined in FSH 3840, 3860 or 3890, as applicable, to contest only whether the furlough violates the procedural requirements of Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) policy, applicable university policy or constitutional or statutory protections, specific to your employment. Grievances may not be filed to challenge the determination that a reduction in budgetary expenditures is necessary, nor contest the decision to enact furloughs, unless the furlough violates your constitutional or statutory protections as an employee.

We strongly considered the feedback requesting an exemption for grant-funded salaries. This is a complicated issue, and either option (including or exempting these salaries) carries significant challenges. However, we believe it is in the best interest of the institution that everyone contribute to addressing this holdback and that would  include incorporating grant-funded salaries into the furlough process. On Monday, an FAQ document will be available on the HR website that provides further details about furlough, including grant-funded salaries.

Also, we will not implement an option for additional voluntary furlough. We greatly appreciate these generous intentions, but we will not combine a voluntary and mandatory furlough system at this time. We will consider this in the future if financial hardships continue to grow.

Here are the details of the plan we will implement later this month:

Furlough Hour Determination

Furlough will be prorated based on annual salary. Furloughs will range from 0.38% to 4.9% total salary reduction, with an average of 2.7%. Human Resources will assign furlough hours to each employee based on the following three criteria:

  1. Base Furlough: Every employee, regardless of title, status or funding source, must take eight hours of furlough. This will be prorated for those who work part time and/or less than 12 months.
  2. Salaries over $40,352: Employees in this range will take the eight hours of furlough (item No. 1 above) plus additional furlough hours based on a sliding scale of 0.25% to 3.6% of annual salary.
  3. Salaries over $90,000: Employees making more than $90,000 will take eight hours of furlough (item No. 1 above) plus additional hours based on the sliding scale (item No. 2 above) plus further furlough hours equal to 1% of annual salary.

How It Will Work

  1. Human Resources will establish a furlough “bank” in VandalWeb. Any furlough hours approved and taken must be recorded on your time sheet. As furlough hours are taken, the furlough bank will decrease. Your total hours will be posted in VandalWeb by Monday, June 22. You will receive notification by email.
  2. Furlough must be taken between June 28, 2020, and January 23, 2021. This provides you with nearly seven months to use your assigned furlough hours over 15 pay periods.
  3. Furlough can be taken in increments as small as 15 minutes.
  4. You can choose the timing that works best for you as long as the time is approved in advance by your supervisor.
  5. No work can be done while furloughed.
  6. Faculty cannot cancel classes for furlough.
  7. In any week furlough hours are taken, exempt employees and faculty are limited to working no more than 40 hours, less the amount of furlough taken.
  8. Employees with an H1B visa, teaching assistants, research assistants, temporary employees and student employees are exempt from taking furlough.

FSH 3450 specifies that notice of furlough must comply with SBOE policies, “including… 30 days written notice to affected employees” that is referenced in our policy. The SBOE has removed this notice requirement in response to COVID-19, but I have still chosen to take emergency action to change our FSH policy to shorten the notice period to 10 days. This benefits our employees — you will have more time to use furlough, including the days around the Fourth of July.

This is not easy. Furlough and pay reductions impact all of us, but as discussed above, we can protect jobs by working together to manage these external challenges. I encourage you to continue to remain focused on delivering the quality work that benefits our students and leads to their success, and I thank you for your unwavering dedication to this great institution.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  June 9, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Gradually Opening in June and July


Idaho is moving quickly through the four stages of reopening following the COVID-19 shutdown. Gov. Brad Little will announce Thursday his decision regarding whether the state will enter Phase 4, which opens all businesses, recreation and travel but maintains safety protocols such as face coverings and social distancing. If approved, Monday, June 15, would be the first business day of Phase 4 and the day many people across Idaho are planning to return to their regular work location.

Leadership at the University of Idaho is working diligently to make returning to the workplace as safe as possible, but we also understand there is some trepidation and uncertainty about what that will look like. We will gradually reopen the university throughout June and July. I ask each of you to work with your supervisor to find the path that both serves your needs and those of the university. A reminder to supervisors that a decision regarding work adjustments must not be made at the department level when medical information is a factor. Those must be referred to HR for processing.

Center directors in Coeur d’Alene, Boise and Idaho Falls will provide information suited to their local situations and office setups. In addition, we expect all of our Extension offices to make decisions around the following protocols but to customize according to each location. If you have concerns or questions about what is being done at your location, contact your center executive officer or local facility manager.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are required inside all university buildings, with limited exceptions. Face coverings include cloth masks, bandanas, scarves or any other material that covers the nose and mouth. The exception to the requirement is in a private office, in a room by yourself, in supervised workout locations, or office spaces where sufficient social distancing is sustainable for work stations. Face coverings must also be worn outside when social distancing of at least six feet is not sustainable.

Optional Return Phase | Monday, June 15 – Sunday, July 5

If you are already in your regular work location, continue to work from this location. Those who need to return to work, are more comfortable at work or who simply want to return to your regular work location can do so on Monday, barring any delay to Phase 4 announced by the governor. Those who need or want to continue to work from home can continue to do so, with supervisor approval and without any additional paperwork, until the Full Return Phase.

Additional guidance is in place for those returning:

  • Face coverings are required in university buildings and when social distancing cannot be maintained outdoors.
  • Employees who return to the workplace must follow CDC Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) on social distancing while at a university location.
  • Supervisors should make expectations clear and be flexible with employees concerned with their safety or dealing with other challenges.
  • Decisions regarding work adjustments must not be made at the department level when medical information is a factor. These must be referred to HR for processing.
  • Supervisors are encouraged to develop alternate schedules to decrease in-person contact, but still accomplish the responsibilities of the unit. Tactics can include:
    • Rotating/alternating work schedules;
    • Staggered start/end times;
    • Optimized office arrangement for distancing;
    • Employee requested work flexibility/flexplace arrangements initiated through HR.
  • Most buildings remain closed to the public.

In addition, all units will receive a cleaning kit. This kit includes:

  • Box of disposable masks
  • Box of disposable gloves
  • Bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Spray bottle with disinfectant concentrate (department will have to add water)
  • Roll of paper towels

While custodians have worked hard over the past several months to deep clean many areas, it is incumbent on each of us to help maintain the cleanliness of our work spaces.

All flexplace requests should be submitted through the online form by June 15, so Human Resources can guide your request to the proper resource to help ensure it is formalized before entering the Full Return Phase. A decision regarding work adjustments must not be made at the department level when medical information is a factor.

These must be referred to HR for processing.

Full Return Phase | Monday, July 6 – Friday, July 31

  • Face coverings are required in campus buildings and when social distancing cannot be maintained outdoors.
  • All employees report to work according to plans developed with supervisors, unless an HR-approved accommodation or flexplace agreement is in place.
  • Healthy Vandal Pledge: This electronic agreement within VandalWeb must be signed by all those returning to a regular work location. This document acknowledges the safety protocols in place at all university locations and your expected participation — to help keep our staff, faculty and students as healthy as possible.
  • A decision regarding work adjustments must not be made at the department level when medical information is a factor. These must be referred to HR for processing.
  • Supervisors are encouraged to develop alternate schedules to decrease in-person contact, but still accomplish unit responsibilities. Tactics can include:
    • Rotating/alternating work schedules;
    • Staggered start/end times;
    • Optimized office arrangement for distancing;
    • Employee requested work flexibility/flexplace arrangements initiated through HR.
  • All offices are expected to meet the needs of in-person responsibilities in addition to phone/remote inquiries.
  • Most buildings are open to the public.

“Open” Status | Saturday, Aug. 1

  • Commencement kicks off the return to fully open status at all U of I locations.
  • All employees return to standard work locations unless an HR-approved accommodation or work flexibility agreement is in place.
  • Healthy Vandal Pledge: This electronic agreement within VandalWeb must be signed by all those returning to a regular work location. This document acknowledges the safety protocols in place at all university locations and your expected participation — to help keep our staff, faculty and students as healthy as possible.
  • All buildings are open during standard summer hours/schedules.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please talk with your supervisor or file a CARE Report.

These protocols may seem burdensome to some but are critical to our successful return to full university operations. We cannot eliminate COVID-19 from our communities, but we can slow its spread with deliberate actions and attention to the way we interact. Communicate with your supervisor if you are uncertain about how to safely return to the workplace. I am grateful for how our community has responded to this pandemic. Let’s continue to be supportive of each other. When you do return, hold each other to a high standard of safety — we owe it to each other to participate fully in all safety protocols. The health and productivity of our communities depends on it.

Keep Calm and Vandal On!

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

Dear University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students,

Today is a National Day of Mourning to respectfully recognize the death of George Floyd and the loss to his family as well as other lives lost. Words and actions matter, especially in times of national unrest and fearfulness, and especially from institutional leaders. They can calm or provoke, heal or hurt, and at their best, motivate meaningful change for good. The memo we sent out earlier this week regarding diversity and safety missed that last mark.

Asking that we treat each other with kindness and compassion was perceived by some as a request not to engage when we witness racism or injustice. That could not be further from what was intended. We must act against racism and injustice by addressing the change that needs to occur to create social equity.

So, today, in this moment of mourning, let me be more direct:

  • Black lives matter, and what happened to George Floyd and so, so many other African American and black citizens is abhorrent. No human being should ever have to fear for their life based solely on the color of their skin. The tragic fact is this is not a new phenomenon, but rather an all too frequent part of our national history.
  • There is no room for disagreement when it comes to basic human civil rights and crimes against humanity. We have a responsibility to engage and act when we see injustice. Truly, our future as a society depends on it.
  • We should be able to have a difficult conversation about race and equity issues and treat each other with civility and compassion … including on social media. This does not mean we tolerate or condone racism or hate crimes; it means that we are a place where people from all backgrounds should feel safe.

Listening — and truly hearing — the concerns of African American and black students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as other underrepresented communities, is critical to moving forward. Action toward lasting change matters as well. After campuswide discussions, we have adopted a diversity plan that we believe will help take action and address issues of social inequity. As Vandals, let’s work together and tackle these issues. It is the only way to realize the very best future for the community. Let’s take this National Day of Mourning to pay our respects to a life unjustly taken and work on our own reflection and racial reconciliation.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  June 2, 2020
SUBJECT:  Diversity and Inclusion are Fundamental at U of I


We are certainly experiencing unprecedented times. We knew it would be a challenging year as we all rolled up our sleeves and tackled the budget challenges that loomed. But no one could have predicted what else 2020 had in store. Just as we are working through the difficulties brought on by COVID-19, our country was hit yet again with an act of senseless violence that has the entire world reeling.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer is another scene in a drama we have seen play out too many times in our nation’s history. It is one that reminds us that, as a nation, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure all people are treated fairly and no one has to live in fear of being killed simply because of their race or religion.

We strive for the University of Idaho to be a place where everyone is welcome, included and respected. But, on occasion, even here, we fall short. That is why it is imperative we each do our part to make sure we establish a safe environment where everyone can feel at home; a place where our differences allow us to flourish. The impact of a university is in the respectful sharing of experiences, thoughts and beliefs. We don’t have to agree, but we do need to act with kindness and compassion.

The President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, comprised of faculty, staff and students, updated the 2004 comprehensive diversity plan identifying many ways the Vandal Family can be more inclusive, more aware and most importantly, most supportive, of faculty, staff and students from all backgrounds. I have challenged Yolanda Bisbee, chief diversity officer, to lead us in a university-wide effort to address strategic areas of this plan. A report on that plan will be released this fall.

We recognize that in the current environment where funds are tight, much of our plan may be aspirational, but we would rather make progress toward a lofty goal than easily hurdle a low bar. It is our job to help break down barriers and provide tools for success for all our students, faculty and staff. Helping students find the support they need through both shared and divergent experiences builds broader perspective, deepens cultural humility and nurtures respect for all.

Addressing and promoting inclusivity and respect helps ensure greater success. We know our industries across the state are looking for employees who can interact globally. Respect for each other is as important of a career attribute as technical knowledge.

Diversity promotes learning. Each college has identified diversity objectives from the plan specific to their needs and has a diversity team in place to communicate regularly on topics of diversity and inclusion. I encourage you to learn more about your college’s diversity team and its goals by contacting your dean.

We believe there is a place for all to succeed at the University of Idaho, and we strive to provide a climate where the support of one another is a driving factor in that success.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 29, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Follows State into Phase 3 of Idaho Rebounds


The temperatures are edging up and we look forward to enjoying everything an Idaho summer has to offer. This year, though, we are doing so with COVID-19 safety protocols in place and at the forefront of our planning.

Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday that Idaho will continue on its path to reopen the state and revive the economy, while continuing to take proactive measures to help keep our families and neighbors healthy. He is allowing the state to enter Phase 3 of his Idaho Rebounds plan.

For the University of Idaho, Stage 3 brings few changes, but does increase our efforts to prepare for Stage 4, when most employees will come back to campus or report to your regular work location. In the meantime:

Stage 3 | May 30 to June 12

If you are able to work from home, you should continue to do so, when business functions allow. Employees unable to work from home should continue working on site. Supervisors have the discretion to create work shifts, alternating assignments or to temporarily reassign an employee to enhance safety and productivity.

  • Social distancing of no less than six feet should be maintained whenever possible.
  • A face covering should be used when in direct contact with other people or when social distancing is not possible.
  • Some buildings may open, with the approval of the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
  • In-person events can occur, following the governor’s guidance: gatherings of up to 50 people where social distancing can occur.
  • Travel will be permitted with supervisor approval and following the governor’s guidance.

Time and Accountability

You should continue to report time worked remotely due to COVID-19. Please remember Monday, May 25, was a holiday and should not be counted as a telework day.

If you have concerns about your health and safety, as we look ahead to returning to work, Human Resources, in coordination with the Provost’s Office, has created a system for streamlining and expediting accommodation requests. The Work Flexibility Arrangement Request form should be submitted to start the process.

Buildings

Buildings on the Moscow campus and across the state will remain closed to the public through Stage 3. The Student Recreation Center is planning to reopen with limited hours and safety protocols on Monday, June 8. The Children’s Center will open Monday, June 1. Parents with enrolled children have been contacted.

We continue to follow CDC guidelines and to work with Idaho Public Health and Gritman Medical Center as we plan for reopening. We are closing in on the ability to provide COVID-19 testing this fall as well as using thermal scanning for university events. Everything we do to plan for re-opening our university is done with the utmost consideration for your health and safety, and that of the entire Vandal Family.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Student, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 22, 2020
SUBJECT:  University Eases into Stage 2 of Reopening


It has been a challenging spring, to say the least. Despite all the challenges, I couldn’t be prouder of the way our university responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone adapted to ensure our students succeeded. Now, without missing a beat, planning for fall is well underway. The Vandal Family never disappoints.

Much work has been done to prepare for re-opening campus this summer and for the return of students to campus in August. It is imperative we open cautiously and safely, but with in-person, in-classroom learning as the priority. We are a residential campus and providing students with the experience they expect and deserve is what will fill our classes.

Our Fall 2020 planning focuses on providing a safe environment for all to work and study. We expect social distancing requirements to be in place until a vaccine is available, so we are adapting all campus operations to follow CDC recommendations. We continue to work with Idaho Public Health and other health experts. Because the landscape continues to change rapidly, we all need to be patient and flexible. If we learned anything over the past three months, it is that flexibility is a key to success.

Safety is our top priority as we work to educate students, conduct research and provide outreach to our state. To accomplish these goals, we will take actions to mitigate the likely return of COVID-19. A more detailed plan will be announced in coming weeks, but below are some general changes:

Safety Protocols

A key component of successfully re-opening is for our university community to embrace the use of face coverings and other personal protective devices in certain situations. This could include offices, classrooms and other campus spaces. We are partnering with Gritman Medical Center to investigate setting up our own COVID-19 testing facility. We are also researching and working to procure thermal scanners for high-traffic areas and gatherings. Use of hand sanitizer and regular cleaning will be even more important.

Classes

We plan to offer live, in-class learning experiences starting on Monday, Aug. 24. Most classes will resume as face-to-face; however, some adaptations to the course schedule are necessary to follow social distancing standards. Some class sizes may be reduced. Others may be moved to larger spaces. Certain courses will put students in a rotation between in-person and online experiences, a format called hybrid flexible — or HyFlex. As a last resort, a few classes may be offered in online formats where no other method can be used. Our ITS staff is adding technology to classrooms to adjust to this variety of formats. Colleges are working to adapt their course offerings to meet these unique safety requirements. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning remains available this summer to help any instructors with online delivery development. We expect the fall class schedule to be completed by mid-June.

Residential Experience

Housing and Residence Life, as well as Greek Chapter facilities, will reduce density to mitigate the spread of the virus. Each area is making plans to provide students with the best possible residential experience that includes social distancing. Vandals Dining will continue to provide food in a safe, responsible way in both The HUB and through food court locations. You will see changes to some facilities and offices as we adapt to social distancing protocols, including plexiglass protection and limited seating.

Staff and faculty, if you have concerns about personal health risks associated with being on campus or at your regular work location, Human Resources will be the initial point of contact for all requests to an adjustment in work and will work with the appropriate supervisor as needed during the process.

While we have a lot to be proud of, the work is far from over. Leadership is working diligently to finalize plans for Fall 2020. You can expect regular updates throughout the summer as we learn more about the virus and adapt our strategies accordingly. A series of online discussions throughout the summer will keep you informed.

Interim Provost Torrey Lawrence will host regular discussions for faculty and staff starting Wednesday, June 3. Watch the Daily Register for details. A New Student Town Hall will be held via Zoom on Thursday, June 4. New students will receive information from Strategic Enrollment Management. Returning students and parents are encouraged to join Dean of Students Blaine Eckles on Facebook Live Monday, June 8. Other forums will be held throughout the summer.

This is a time of uncertainty in our world, but please know we are diligently planning detailed procedures and protocols to reduce the risk of infection as we return to work and class environments. The well-being of our Vandal Family is our highest priority and we want to reopen our university with that in mind. Our success hinges on our ability to be thoughtful and flexible. We are primarily a destination campus, so providing a true campus experience is key to successfully delivering on our mission and ensuring the financial stability of our great university. Most importantly, we must work together for the good of our community.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 15, 2020
SUBJECT:  University Eases into Stage 2 of Reopening


Tomorrow would have been the day we all gathered to celebrate the many accomplishments of the past year. While we are unable to gather for Commencement because of COVID-19, it does not diminish the work done and we should still take time to reflect on and enjoy the many successes.

It is also a time to further consider the status of our university and of the state. Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little commended Idahoans for their efforts to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. He declared Stage 1 of his Idaho Rebounds plan a success and gave the green light to enter Stage 2.

For the University of Idaho, Stage 2 brings few changes. Here is a breakdown:

Stage 2 | May 16 to May 29

If you are able to work from home, you should continue to do so. Employees unable to work from home should continue working on site. Supervisors have the discretion to create work shifts, alternating assignments or to temporarily reassign an employee to enhance safety and productivity.

  • A face covering should be used when in direct contact with other people or when social distancing is not possible.
  • Some select buildings may open to the public, with vice presidential approval.
  • Meetings of up to 10 people can be held where social distancing can occur.
  • Dining areas can open with approval of the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
  • No in-person university events will be held.
  • Only essential travel will be permitted, following the governor’s guidance.
  • Campus Recreation and the Children’s Center, while eligible to open, will not do so until Stage 3 (On or about May 30) while plans are developed to accomplish this safely. The Outdoor Rental Center will be available for equipment rental with curbside pickup/drop-off during Stage 2.

Our primary goal is the safety of our Vandal Family. We continue to work closely with Idaho Public Health to evaluate each decision and plan to return all employees to regular work locations by Monday, June 15. But we must remain flexible, attentive and proactive. Employees who are vulnerable or live with someone who is vulnerable should contact Human Resources for assistance to determine reasonable accommodations for each stage.

Decisions about events, travel and engagement this summer will be up to the organizing unit. UIdaho Bound, scheduled for June 12, will be held virtually while the June 26 and July 17 events are scheduled to be in person. We also continue to plan for a Commencement ceremony honoring spring 2020 graduates on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Many people are involved in planning our fall restart. Plans are coming together to address health and safety concerns of class sizes, testing, response to positive COVID-19 tests, housing arrangements and more. Details will come out over the summer, as they are finalized.

Thank you for your patience and your commitment to ensuring U of I is doing its part to reopen our state safely. These are uncertain times, but I know our Vandal community will do its best to help bring us all back together again on the vibrant Moscow campus and across our beautiful state.

Keep Calm and Vandal On!

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 14, 2020
SUBJECT:  New CEO Named for U of I Boise


A number of University of Idaho employees are leaving the institution this spring as a result of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program and Optional Retirement Incentive Program. Some of these positions need to be refilled.

One of those positions is the center executive officer leadership role at U of I Boise. Mike Satz has led this center for six years and has been at U of I since 2006, when he joined the College of Law. Mike has taken the voluntary separation incentive and we wish him well as he embarks on the next challenge in his career.

Our commitment to the Treasure Valley and the many opportunities available for U of I in this region are key to our future. It is imperative we move swiftly and deliberately to continue the good work of staff and faculty at the center.

Chandra Zenner Ford, a Vandal with many years of experience at U of I, will lead U of I Boise effective July 1. She will also continue to serve in her role as senior associate to the president. Her role will be a combination of the job responsibilities she currently leads surrounding my strategic initiatives and those of the center executive officer.

Based in Boise, Chandra has deep roots in the Treasure Valley and an amazing network upon which to draw for the benefit of our work there. Before rejoining her alma mater, she most recently served as philanthropy director for the City of Boise. I am asking her to lead the creation of a comprehensive strategy for U of I’s presence in the Treasure Valley and southwestern Idaho. Her office will be located in the Idaho Water Center.

Merging the two positions has the added benefit of saving resources during this time of budget cuts.

Chandra has served as the interim executive director of University Communications and Marketing since early 2020. Kathy Barnard, assistant vice president for alumni relations and advancement communications will, effective immediately, step in as interim executive director of UCM, in addition to her other responsibilities. This will allow Chandra time to work with Mike and the Boise team to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Kathy is a seasoned communications professional who already works closely with the UCM team. She will serve until the search for a new chief marketing officer (CMO) is completed and the new CMO is on board, most likely in September or October.

I want to thank Chandra and Kathy for their willingness to step up. I also want to thank Mike for his years of service to the university; I wish him well in his new endeavors.

I appreciate the patience of UCM, Advancement/Alumni and U of I Boise as we work through this transition. I look forward to the vision Chandra brings to U of I Boise and the expertise she provides. We have such a bright future, with many opportunities to explore statewide.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  Proposed Mandatory Furlough Plan for FY21


As Idaho begins to reopen and we watch closely to see if we can successfully hold off COVID-19, we are also beginning to address the budget impacts of the pandemic on the University of Idaho. I appreciate the efforts already being made to carefully weigh any hiring, delay start dates and continue to watch for any cost savings through open positions.

This alone is not enough to meet the financial burden we are under. The state has already implemented a 2% holdback in FY21. This holdback will be addressed in further budget cuts to units. This is something I wish we didn’t have to do, but we have no choice. Those plans are in the early stages and details will be announced soon.

In addition, Gov. Brad Little has asked us to prepare for another 5% holdback as a result of COVID-19. We also anticipate the pandemic to further impact our reserve balance, despite the infusion of CARES Act funding for operations.

To meet the 5% holdback we are considering mandatory furloughs in FY21. Implementing such a strategy requires input from the Faculty Senate and Staff Council, per FSH 3450. We are already in touch with those leaders and will seek input from the larger bodies next week. Pending their input, we hope to implement a furlough system designed with two primary objectives:

  1. We are all part of the Vandal Family and if each of us takes a piece of this burden, we can save jobs and tackle the problem together.
  2. Employees on the higher end of the pay scale will take the biggest portion of the burden.

The proposed furloughs equate to a 1.15% to 5.8% total salary reduction, with an average of 2.8%. By each of us doing this one thing, we expect to save $3.3 million in our General Education budget. This will help us to meet the potential 5% holdback.

Furlough Details

Furlough will be prorated based on salary. Human Resources will assign furlough hours to each employee based on the following three criteria. Each employee’s total hours will be posted in VandalWeb after the plan is approved. Notification will be sent when this information is available.

Base Furlough: Every employee, regardless of title, status or funding source, must take 24 hours of furlough. This will be prorated for those who work part time.

Salaries over $40,352: Employees in this range will take the 24 hours of furlough as well as additional furlough hours based on a sliding scale that is equivalent to 0.25% to about 2.2% of your annual salary.

Salaries over $90,000: Employees making more than $90,000 will take 24 hours of furlough, additional hours based on the sliding scale and further furlough hours equal to 1% of your annual salary.

Furlough must be taken between June 28, 2020, and Jan. 23, 2021. This provides employees with nearly seven months to use their assigned furlough hours.

Human Resources will establish a furlough “bank” in VandalWeb. Any furlough hours approved and taken must be recorded on the time sheet. As furlough hours are recorded, the bank will decrease. Furlough taken prior to June 28, 2020, will be considered voluntary and be added to the voluntary furlough pool to address the FY20 state holdback.

As with the voluntary furlough many of you participated in this past year, there are specific guidelines:

  • You can take furlough for as little as one hour at a time.
  • You can choose timing that works best for you.
  • All furloughs must be pre-approved by your supervisor.
  • No work can be done while furloughed.
  • Faculty cannot cancel classes for furlough.
  • Exempt employees and faculty are limited to working no more than 40 hours, less the amount of furlough, for any week furlough is used.
  • Exemptions: Employees with an H1B visa, teaching assistants, research assistants, temporary employees and student employees.

Again, we will consider the input of faculty and staff leadership prior to finalizing these details. I encourage you to reach out to your representatives to provide feedback.

I am proud of the effort put into addressing our internal financial deficit over the past year. Together we made hard decisions, resulting in $22 million in cuts. Now we must turn our focus to the external influences on our budget. We each need to do our part to put us back on the path to financial stability we have worked so hard to attain.

We are hopeful but uncertain about enrollment this fall. Each day our dedicated team from Strategic Enrollment Management, assisted by faculty, staff and alumni, is working hard to reach out to returning and potential students. But we won’t know until fall how those efforts will play out. A decrease in enrollment will have further impact on our budget.

We don’t know how or when this pandemic will end. We need to remain vigilant to protect the hard budgetary work we have already done. There will be better days ahead and we will come out of this Vandal Strong. Throughout, we will remain focused on our students, their experiences and their success. We have a commitment to them and to our state and together, as Vandals, we will fulfill it.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 7, 2020
SUBJECT:  State of the University Address


Everywhere you look, you find the University of Idaho delivering on our statewide mission in an impactful way. The annual State of the University is our chance to focus on that impact. Without the ability to gather and share our story in person, we’ve collected video highlights that demonstrate our good work. This message will also be featured in tomorrow’s Friday Letter for our alumni and external stakeholders to share in this reflection.

This “A Year in Vandal Country” video series shows our impact through:

  • The State of the University
  • The Impact of Our Colleges
  • Our Year in Review  

Take the time to listen, watch and enjoy the videos, highlighting the great work of our entire university this past year.

State of the University thumbnail play 

I look forward to working alongside each of you again when it is safe and healthy to do so. Until then, Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students
CC: University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  May 6, 2020
SUBJECT:  Eligible Students to Receive Stimulus Money


It has been an unprecedented and unbelievable spring. Who could have imagined when we returned for the Spring 2020 semester that we would finish it remotely, while experiencing a health pandemic like nothing we have ever seen? We miss our students. The Vandal Family is resilient and finding those places where we can gather together virtually as Vandals, in the classroom and through the many engagement opportunities, has kept us connected.

The change to online learning and the impact of COVID-19 on jobs, health and families is especially challenging while trying to learn, do research and prepare for the career of your choice. The University of Idaho received $3.4 million from CARES Act Student Aid to help with some of the financial challenges you face. While I know this doesn’t address every financial challenge you may be having now, I am pleased that eligible students enrolled at U of I in Spring 2020 will receive a check.

The disbursement looks like this:

Spring Semester

  • On Monday, May 11, 2020, each eligible student enrolled in the spring semester (through May 2) will receive $513.
  • Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Education define eligible students as:
    • Enrolled during the spring semester;
    • Eligible for federal financial assistance (Title IV); and 
    • Not enrolled in online or dual-credit courses.
  • Students are encouraged to set up direct deposit to their bank account. Checks will be distributed to students who do not have direct deposit set up.

Summer Semester

  • On approximately July 17, all eligible students for the summer semester, who are registered by July 16, 2020, will receive up to $320, an amount determined by the number of students enrolled.
  • Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Education define eligible students as:
    • Enrolled during the summer semester;
    • Eligible for federal financial assistance (Title IV); and
    • Not enrolled in online or dual-credit courses.

Unspent funds will be available to students through an appeals process with the Financial Aid Office during the Fall 2020 semester, through a process to be announced.

Students receiving CARES Act funds will be notified by email of your eligibility Wednesday, May 6, 2020. You will be asked to confirm your direct deposit information (and given instruction on how to set up direct deposit) but will not be required to apply or take any other steps.

For questions about the CARES Act funding or direct deposit please contact the Cashier’s Office at 208-885-7447 and for financial aid questions contact Financial Aid office at finaid@uidaho.edu.

As the semester winds down, I want to thank each of you for your patience as we have navigated the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on our world. I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus in the fall. We are planning to offer in-person classes with modifications for safety and a strong plan for identifying and reacting to any upward tick in COVID-19 cases. Your safety is our priority, and we are here to support you. Thank you for your patience and determination as we worked through this unprecedented time together.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 30, 2020
SUBJECT:  Program Prioritization Recommendations Approved


The University of Idaho’s mission is to deliver education, outreach and research that benefits the people of Idaho. From our deep and unwavering commitment to agriculture to our recent focus on cybersecurity, we have continued to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of Idaho throughout our history. It is our responsibility to ensure that everything we do is relevant, cost-effective and impactful. That requires regular review and assessment of our offerings.

Thank you to outgoing Provost John Wiencek for leading the complex process of evaluating 338 academic programs these past few months. I especially appreciate the work of the Program Prioritization Task Force. Led by Rachel Halverson, department chair of Modern Languages and Cultures, the task force conducted a detailed assessment of designated programs and provided a thoughtful slate of recommendations for me to consider.

In general, the recommendations include:

  • Ongoing monitoring of 39 programs;
  • Restructuring three programs;
  • Merging eight academic units into four, making the programs financially stronger and more efficient; and
  • Closing 10 programs, eight of which were submitted voluntarily by the dean of the respective college.

The Impact

While cost savings is not the main reason for engaging in this process, it is an outcome that is especially helpful in the current environment. Total cost savings expected from Program Prioritization changes are expected to be $1,591,000 realized over time as the changes are implemented and courses are taught out.

The deans used the Program Prioritization results as a tool to meet their $15.74 million in budget reduction goals, representing the majority of our overall campus budget reduction goal of $22 million for FY21. This approach demonstrates the commitment and resiliency of our community to make tough choices in hard times.

The Process

The task force of nine faculty, three staff and two deans began meeting in late 2019 to refresh the Program Prioritization process.

The task force implemented a two-step evaluation process. The first step focused on quantifying sources of revenue and contrasting revenue with expenditures, summarized by a metric referred to as “Return on Budget Allocated” or RBA. For programs with substantial negative RBA, additional analysis was conducted in a second step.

Step two included an opportunity for deans to self-identify programs for closure or significant change in curriculum or structure. In addition, some recently established programs without the degree conferrals vital to the calculation of RBA were removed from further review.

Representatives from three program areas were invited to meet with the task force to discuss qualitative issues, contribution to the University of Idaho’s mission and other mitigating factors. Following those discussions, the task force forwarded clear recommendations for all three programs to the Institutional Planning and Effectiveness Committee (IPEC). IPEC supported those recommendations and forwarded them to me. I approved the following actions based on those reports:

  • Materials Science: All programs and degrees within this discipline will be closed, with appropriate approvals from the Idaho State Board of Education. Students in Material Sciences will be taught out to degree completion with care and attention to their individual needs.
  • Music: Individual programs or emphases within this large program will be reviewed and a consolidation plan implemented. Consolidated programs will continue to improve degree completion and incorporate additional budget reductions.
  • Geography and Geology: These two departments will be merged, and faculty will work on programmatic integration and improvements for the future.

As a final step in this process, I offered to meet with each program to discuss this decision. I appreciated that some faculty and program leadership shared their views on the recommendations.

The top priority now is to implement these changes with our students and their continued success as the focus. In addition, improvement in the programs identified for restructuring is vital not only to the future sustainability of those individual programs, but also to the future of the university.

We value every program at U of I and those who work within them, which makes these decisions even more difficult. Despite our best attempts at mitigation, though, they will have a real impact on our students and the careers of our colleagues. And yet, the value of continuous program assessment and improvement is also real, not only in times of scarce resources but also as a spark for innovation and collaboration. We have been evolving as an institution for more than 130 years; embracing the possibilities of regular assessment and adaptation will ensure we not only survive, but thrive, as a prosperity engine for Idaho and beyond for the next 130.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 24, 2020
SUBJECT:  Decision is to Keep Facilities Management In-House


Our Vandal Community is what makes the University of Idaho so strong. The dedication of faculty and staff is second to none, and this shows every day in the work you do for the university and, most importantly, for our students.

We have done incredible work together this past year, making hard decisions that will make the university stronger. We continue to face hard decisions as we emerge from this pandemic. Keeping our community whole is important. Months of work and deliberations delayed by COVID-19 are now completed.

I recently received feedback on our investigation into outsourcing of Facilities management from a survey of Staff Council, Faculty Senate and the University Distinguished Professors. Like most of the comments received over the course of the past few months, the feedback was split. The vast majority of staff leadership support outsourcing; the vast majority of faculty do not. Comments from staff indicated that they are very aware and concerned about the financial headwinds we face and fear that if we don’t proceed with outsourcing, these foregone savings will fall on the remaining staff and could likely result in more layoffs. I fully understand this argument. The state is asking us to plan for more holdbacks and, while our applications and admittances are up, students nationwide have not been committing to go on to higher ed. Some surveys indicate many will sit out a year, and other studies say enrollments nationwide will be down. Our experience is the same — our yields on admittances are down from this time last year and I remain concerned about fall enrollment and its impact.

Most faculty surveyed expressed both philosophical and practical concerns about outsourcing Facilities management. It is clear most felt savings should not come from outsourcing, even though they understood and accepted it would need to come from somewhere else.

At the end of the day, this last argument is the one I found most compelling. For this, and many other reasons, after consulting with the Vice President for Finance and Administration, we determined not to move forward with any plan to outsource the management, current or future staff of U of I Facilities. I am confident we can structure our plans to deal with the latest state holdbacks in a way that minimizes the impact on staff. Most of our highest paid employees are faculty and administration, so I believe an income-based approach to this shortfall will help deflect this burden from the vast majority of staff. The details of the approach are being worked out.

I appreciate the work Brian Foisy, Vice President for Finance and Administration, and his team put into investigating this option. It was hard, emotional work. Brian was always transparent and professional, did not allow himself to be dragged down into unproductive engagements, and when the time came to make a final decision, took the high road and agreed with the outcome. I also appreciate the work of the review committee and the feedback from the surveyed groups. In the end, this feedback was pivotal to the final decision and charting a path forward.

The work of the Facilities team is invaluable to our university. Our Moscow campus is a special place, physically and emotionally, and a key to recruitment success. This team is vital to that experience. I thank each one of you. I know this has been a stressful time full of uncertainty, but please know I appreciate you and want what is best for you and the university you help maintain.

As we look ahead to fall and all of us being together again in whatever that setting is across our great state, we will do it with the best interest of the university in mind — and that includes our people. For now, we continue to work remotely where possible and provide the services our students need to finish out the unprecedented Spring 2020 semester. I look forward to the day I see our entire Vandal Family together again, face to face, on our beautiful campus.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students
CC: University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 22, 2020
SUBJECT:  Commencement Aug. 1 Kicks Off U of I Re-Start


There is no place more beautiful than our Moscow campus in spring. I am fortunate to live on campus and work in the Administration Building, where I look out on our tree-lined Hello Walk and the vast Administration Lawn. Despite its beauty, the campus is not the same without all of you. We miss you. The vibrant buzz of students is what makes our university whole. I look forward to the day we can be back here together, learning, living and building Vandal experiences.

That time begins Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, when we have a simple but meaningful Commencement ceremony for Spring 2020 graduates in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center. I regret it will not be the large fanfare we are accustomed to, but nothing happening now is what we are accustomed to. Our graduates have spoken and we hear you. A survey conducted by ASUI showed overwhelming support for holding a simplified ceremony for our 2020 graduates this August so your families can celebrate you. I understand this desire to walk across that stage as a ceremonial end to your educational experience. It is a moment of achievement and triumph. We will not have ceremonies at our statewide centers, but all graduates are invited to Moscow. Graduates, please watch for more information from the Registrar’s Office about specific information they need to accommodate your diploma cover delivery and the Aug. 1 ceremony. I look forward to seeing you in Moscow. You are also invited to participate in either the Winter 2020 or Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies, if that timing is better for you.

We will follow the August ceremony with our traditional Vandal Welcome – that time we all come together to kick off the fall semester. All of us here in Moscow look forward to the energy and hope that fills our campus in August. I am sure you are looking forward to returning, too.

All indications at this point are that we will return to live delivery of classes and full campus and statewide operations Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. I know that is a day we all yearn for as a return to normal. We continue to work with Public Health – Idaho North Central District to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our campus, as well as the governor’s office and the Idaho State Board of Education to ensure we proceed in a careful and safe way.

With a few rare exceptions, summer classes are scheduled for online/remote delivery. Campus activities including camps, recruitment and retention events and other activities will be evaluated and held, if possible.

While we all continue to live within a stay-at-home mandate, I encourage you to engage in the many opportunities provided by U of I Recreation and Wellbeing to stay active and healthy. Each week the student newsletter, MyUI, lists health and wellness activities delivered remotely.

The unprecedented changes to our world in recent months have challenged us all. I cannot express how grateful I am for your patience and support during this unforeseeable upheaval to our lives. I look forward to seeing you back on campus – whether at the Commencement ceremony or for classes. These are challenging times, but we are Vandals, and together we will persevere.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 20, 2020
SUBJECT:  Careful Hiring Practices Can Help Budget Challenges


Our collective actions across the state appear to be making a difference in Idaho’s fight against COVID-19. Even as we continue to work to flatten the infection curve, however, the larger financial impact on our state is becoming apparent.

In late March, Gov. Brad Little provided guidance to all state agencies and educational institutions to freeze hiring, avoid paid overtime without approval, avoid paid administrative leave without prior approval and avoid increases to employee compensation without prior approval. The Idaho State Board of Education asked us to comply with these guidelines and will use information we provide to report to state agencies as required. The seriousness of the state’s revenue decline shows in the recent action to withhold another 1% from all state agencies for FY20, with an additional 5% holdback for FY21 being considered by the governor, all to address the impact of COVID-19. These are in addition to the Legislature’s 2% base reduction imposed for FY21.

We have done great work putting the institution’s financial house in order. The FY21 budget we developed together would have balanced our General Education budget if not for these additional reductions from the state. In many ways, we have been ahead of the curve on the governor’s guidelines. Deans and unit heads have done a tremendous job evaluating the impact of our voluntary separations and retirements and determining what positions are essential. And the expense trends (previous to COVID-19, General Education expenses were running approximately $1 million a month below last year) also prove how effective this community has been at keeping an eye on expenditures, not because it was a mandate, but rather because we care about our university.

Conforming to the Governor’s Guidelines

It is, nevertheless, important for the University of Idaho to support the fight against COVID-19 – the infection and the financial impact – both in spirit and in deed. Effective immediately, we will adopt and implement the governor’s guidelines, including a formal moratorium on hiring. This moratorium prescribes the procedures required to fill a vacant position and aligns us with expectations of the governor.

While the goal of these guidelines is to control compensation costs, there are certain positions voluntarily vacated needing to be refilled to maintain critical functions and continuity. An exception process outlines the requirements. All exceptions will be submitted by your dean or unit head to incoming Interim Provost Torrey Lawrence for positions within Academic Affairs (both faculty and academic staff) or Vice President for Finance and Administration Brian Foisy (for all other units) for formal approval. This form is available through each unit’s hiring authority. All new postings must be approved prior to submitting to the PeopleAdmin system.

Current searches with an approved hiring proposal in Human Resources can be completed as planned. All other searches, no matter their place in the process, need to go through the exception process or be withdrawn. The start dates of any new employees will be part of this review process and may be delayed, allowing for additional savings and proper onboarding during this unusual time.

The state’s guidance for a freeze comes at a particularly challenging time as we see dozens of people leave the university through our voluntary separation and voluntary retirement programs. I know many of you have taken on extra duties as we have responded to the spread of COVID-19, and I thank you. It is my hope that quick actions will help prevent COVID-19 from undoing much of what we have already accomplished financially this year and better position us to overcome the financial obstacles ahead. I truly appreciate all your efforts and for those you will give in the coming months on behalf of our university.

This is not easy, and the months ahead will be difficult, but I am confident we will persevere and get through this challenging time.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 10, 2020
SUBJECT:  Budget Update with COVID-19 Impact


FY20 Goals Met, State Holdbacks Still an Issue

I again ask forgiveness for the length of this communication, but I prefer to err on the side of transparency. The FY20 year-end is rapidly approaching and, given the disruption and economic impact of COVID-19, we felt it important to provide an update on our financial condition. All indications are that, except for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenues, we will meet our FY20 budget reduction goals. Thank you to everyone across every college and unit for helping us meet the $14 million expense reduction target. This was not easy, but we all contributed and we succeeded.

We are still working to meet the additional 1% holdback the state implemented last fall. You suggested, and we offered, a voluntary furlough program. To date, we have secured $300,000 toward the approximately $1 million goal, but with nearly all work now being accomplished remotely and notification today from the state that Change in Employee Compensation (CEC) is being held back, there is understandably little chance we will see additional voluntary furloughs.

Last week, the governor imposed another 1% holdback for this fiscal year to help offset the costs to the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given how close we are to the end of the fiscal year, we have little choice but to use our cash reserves to meet both these holdbacks. It will further deplete our already insufficient reserves but will allow us to meet the governor’s expectation.

FY21 Budgets Approved, But Further Proposed State Holdbacks Are Unaddressed

Late last fall, we determined the $14 million in budget reductions for FY20 would become permanent in FY21. We also tasked each college and unit with developing plans to reduce the budget another $8 million to, in essence, balance our budget. It was a long process, but each college and unit has met that challenge, and FY21 budgets, with a total base reduction of $22 million, have been approved.

While these cuts, on paper, will eliminate our deficit, we will not see the complete benefit in our reserve balance in FY21. Some of the reductions are in faculty non-renewals, which require one more complete contract year.

We are also using some of the salary savings to pay the required incentive payments of those in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) and Optional Retirement Incentive Program (ORIP). These have one- and three-year payouts, respectively.

Progress on other budget-related work took a back burner when the fast-changing COVID-19 situation caused the institution to act quickly to move all classes to online/remote delivery and react to all the other implications, including working remotely and adopting new state and federal rules for paying our employees. We continue to work through the details of many of the impacts and appreciate your patience as we balance guidance from the federal and state governments with what we know is best for our Vandal community.

Despite the turmoil, we were able to finalize changes to our Other Post-Employment Benefits and communicate that to our community. We are now refocusing on some aspects of our budget-related work, including outsourcing.

Even though we have taken much of the anxiety out of the outsourcing discussion by making the decision to keep our current staff as university employees, our final review has understandably been delayed by the need to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 threat. I am told that the outsourcing review committee will soon issue their recommendation. At that point, I will solicit feedback from the Staff Council and Faculty Senate before making a final decision.

Program Prioritization is in its final stages, and I am told will be delivered to me for approval soon. This process does not have a specific budgetary goal but is intended to review our programs to ensure they are cost-effective and impactful.

While we have done well to set our goals for addressing our historic budget challenges, additional cuts from the state make our work more challenging. Last fall, we knew we would most likely face another 2% holdback from the state in FY21. But last week, the governor indicated he will likely implement as much as 5% more due to COVID-19. We also now know we will not be getting a CEC distribution approved earlier by the state, adding to challenges we face. We are discussing how to address these additional financial challenges should they come to pass.

Fall Enrollment

We put a lot into recruitment this year, including adding a traveling Enroll Idaho event, complete with a U of I-branded van that lets everyone know we are in town. Things were looking good with applications and admissions up significantly, until COVID-19 hit. The timing could not be worse as we were gearing up for our on-campus recruitment events. We all know our campus sells itself. It is a beautiful place and getting potential students to visit often seals the deal. Our Strategic Enrollment Management team, with help from many across the university, quickly pivoted and developed a robust UIdaho Bound website with videos, a virtual tour and highlight videos from each college. It was an incredible amount of work. But nothing takes the place of having those students right here in Moscow and, while very early in the cycle, we have yet to see the typical enrollments we normally would at this point. I have heard from my peers at other universities that they too are experiencing low yields, so this may just be a delay related to COVID-19.

As a result of all this, our summer and fall enrollment numbers are more uncertain than we like. It remains to be seen if this is temporary or will result in a decline in tuition revenue. In the meantime, we will continue working hard to convert our robust admissions pool to enrolled students, which means we all need to be fervent recruiters for our university.

COVID-19’s Impacts on Revenue and Fund Balance

When we put together our aggressive budget reduction plan, there was no way we could have known what else we would face in 2020. While we continue to deliver the great Vandal education through online/remote delivery, the loss of our energetic students on campus is not only disappointing to all of us but is also costly. At each turn we are losing revenue: housing, dining, parking, events, branded gear sales and more. We estimate a total revenue loss of more than $7 million through June 30 due to COVID-19.

The federal government has passed a stimulus package that will mitigate some of the financial impact of COVID-19 on our institution. The Department of Education will distribute $6.9 million to the U of I. Half must go directly to student aid to those demonstrating need due to disruption associated with COVID-19. The other half can be used to defray costs to the institution. The net result is another anticipated $3 million to $4 million reduction to our reserve balance.

Looking Ahead

We have been successful at addressing those things we can control, and looking forward, it is not only important that our budgets are balanced, but that we have the ability to re-position our university for the future. Lack of investment in systems, processes and programs limits what we can do for our students. That is why I have been advocating for Public-Private Partnership (P3) financing in the form of the long-term leasing of our utility system assets. We continue to move this process forward. The legal documents are being prepared, and we have a number of interested high quality potential investors which bodes well for a favorable offering. COVID-19 has also impacted this initiative as potential investors and operators need to tour the facility and meet with our management team. We are, therefore, looking at fall for the completion of this financing. It is admittedly a complicated structure, but successful financing will allow the university to invest in more teaching assistants, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to advance our mission. It will also allow us to allocate resources to undergraduate scholarships to make us more competitive. Finally, it will allow us to advance our strategic initiatives.

Many steps have been taken to address our budget challenges. As mentioned earlier, in those things we can control we have been quite successful. The other challenges, although beyond our control, are frustrating and complicate things. I know we all wish we did not have budget and reserve deficits. I know we all did what was needed and had hoped to see the other side of our budget challenges by now. I know none of us expected or wanted to respond to a pandemic. But we are Vandals, and Vandals are resilient. I am proud of how we responded and how we all came together. We resisted the politics of envy, focusing instead on how each of us could contribute. Without a lot of complaining or finger-pointing, we just got it done. For that I am grateful. We will continue to do what is needed to respond to the unknown and re-claim our future. Keep fighting the good fight. I still am.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 7, 2020
SUBJECT:  Torrey Lawrence Named Interim Provost and Executive Vice President


Torrey Lawrence has been named Interim Provost and Executive Vice President after receiving strong support in a survey of representative university leadership. Torrey’s leadership during the past year, as Vice Provost for Faculty, has been impactful and effective. Ninety-one percent of the responses supported Torrey’s appointment. His administrative experience and work on key issues during nearly 22 years at the university will help make this leadership transition as smooth as possible in this midst of our current challenges.

He will begin his new duties on Sunday, May 3, 2020. A national search will begin immediately to identify a permanent Provost and Executive Vice President, a decision supported by 89% of those surveyed. An internal search for Interim Vice Provost for Faculty will also begin immediately.

Torrey joined the faculty of the Lionel Hampton School of Music in 1998. Prior to taking the vice provost role he was the associate dean for undergraduate studies and faculty affairs in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

He served as director of athletic bands from 1998-2012, associate director of the School of Music from 2012-13 and director from 2013-17. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music performance and wind conducting from the University of Oregon. He also holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University.

As Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, Torrey will lead the academic mission of the university and therefore a broad scope of areas including faculty matters, student success, budget management, strategic planning, and academic programs. He has served our university well, which has been further demonstrated these past few weeks as he was among those who quickly and effectively adapted university operations to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership is appreciated and the stability he will bring in these uncertain times is very much needed.

Torrey will take over for current Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek, who will begin his tenure as Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of Akron on May 29, 2020.

Please join me in congratulating Torrey in his appointment to this new role.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 2, 2020
SUBJECT:  John Wiencek Accepts Position at Akron


Executive Vice President and Provost John Wiencek has accepted a position as the Executive Vice President and Provost at The University of Akron. Akron announced his acceptance this morning.

In his five years at the University of Idaho, John led the university through developing a strategic plan, program assessment and modifications, difficult budget decisions and has worked to improve communication with faculty. I appreciate all he has done for our university and wish him the best in his new role. He will begin work at Akron on May 29, 2020.

It is a difficult time across higher education, and we are certainly seeing that here at U of I. With so many things happening — program prioritization, budget cuts, COVID-19 and its ramifications, online course delivery and more — I believe stability and consistency will help drive success. In the face of these challenges, I am considering options for an interim provost while preparing to launch a national search for our next academic leader. I am implementing a survey this week so representative leadership can express opinions and offer any other suggestions before I make my final decision.

Again, please join me in congratulating John on this move that takes him back to where he graduated from high school and where he is close to his family. I know he will provide terrific academic leadership at Akron.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  April 1, 2020
SUBJECT:  Three Students and First Latah County Resident Diagnosed with COVID-19 


COVID-19 continues to shape our day-to-day lives and drives much of our focus at the University of Idaho right now. Thank you for everything each of you is doing to help us slow the spread of this virus – by social distancing and staying home when possible.

Our Moscow community and Vandal Family were both impacted by COVID-19 today. We received word that three Vandals as well as a Latah County resident have been diagnosed with the virus. We also became aware of a case involving a Whitman County resident who was on the Moscow campus early last week.

An 18-year-old student who moved out of the residence halls Sunday confirmed positive with COVID-19 today in Canyon County. He was on campus last week. The student is experiencing mild symptoms and is recovering at home. University staff is contacting those who may have been exposed on campus and preparing to isolate affected students. We strongly encourage students on campus who may have been exposed to self-isolate in place to protect themselves and others and for all students to follow social distancing guidelines. Staff members working in the area are also being notified.

A 21-year-old student was diagnosed with COVID-19 Tuesday. He is a Boise-based student and had last been in class March 19 in the Boise Water Center. He had mild symptoms and continues to be self-isolating at home. Those who may have come in contact with him have been notified of possible exposure.

A 38-year-old distance education graduate student was diagnosed with COVID-19 recently. He engages with U of I electronically and lives out of state.

Public Health – Idaho North Central District announced today the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Latah County. The individual is in their 60s and is recovering at home. This case appears to be travel related, according to Public Health. There is no known connection to U of I.

A man aged 30-39 who was diagnosed in Whitman County was on our Moscow campus Tuesday, March 24. Those impacted have been notified. He has mild symptoms and is recovering at home.

We wish all those suffering from coronavirus a quick and full recovery. These cases are a sharp reminder that the coronavirus is in our communities and we must all do our part to flatten the curve. No individual or age group is immune to the potential of infection.

U of I will not announce each individual case as the number continues to grow but will work with public health officials to notify those possibly exposed. If cases at other university sites are found, those impacted will be contacted directly.

Your health and safety continue to be our focus. I urge you to follow Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order and limit your exposure to others and maintain social distancing practices when you do have to go out. I look forward to the day when we are all back together again, but that just isn’t possible for now. We must ensure social distance and take care of each other.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Retirees, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 31, 2020
SUBJECT:  Changes to Other Post-Employment Benefits

 

Last Tuesday, the Faculty Senate approved policy changes that implement recommendations of the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Advisory Group. The purpose of this communication is to outline retiree benefit changes recommended by the OPEB Advisory Group, supported by the Staff Council and subsequently approved by the Faculty Senate. I apologize for the length of this memo, but such a weighty and important issue is worth taking some time to communicate.

Summary of Changes

The Government Accounting Standards Board implemented a new accounting standard that required the recognition of Other Post-Employment Benefits (primarily healthcare benefits) on the balance sheet. For the University of Idaho, the impact was the recognition of a $33 million liability in fiscal year 2018. The increase in liabilities on our balance sheet together with the operating losses in FY18 and FY19 eliminated our reserves (our savings account) as calculated by the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE). SBOE requires all institutions maintain a 5% reserve to ensure adequate resources during times of financial stress. The OPEB Advisory Group was tasked with identifying ways to meet our SBOE reserve requirements while still taking into consideration the needs of our employees and retirees. To summarize the recommendations:

  1. Tier I benefits remain unchanged.
  2. Pre-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tiers II and III.
  3. Post-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tiers II and III, for those already retired or eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
  4. Post-Medicare benefits will be phased out by the end of 2023 for those in Tier II and III not eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
  5. Pre-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for Tier IV.
  6. Post-Medicare benefits remain unchanged for those in Tier IV who are already retired or eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021.
  7. Post-Medicare benefits will end for those in Tier IV not eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021, at the end of 2023.
  8. Tier IV will be closed for employees hired after June 30, 2020.

Rationale and Context for OPEB Changes

As mentioned above, the objective of our review was to identify ways to meet our SBOE reserve requirements while still taking into consideration the needs of our employees and retirees. I believe this change does that. The revised policy will reduce the OPEB liability by approximately $11 million. These changes will not, by themselves, bring university reserves into full compliance with SBOE policy, but will produce substantial improvement.

The revised policy allows Tier I benefits to remain unchanged. This is our most vulnerable population, with most, if not all, on fixed income. These retirees count on these benefits and we have a commitment to continue to support these employees who dedicated their working lives to our university.

The committee further determined, after substantial due diligence and analysis, there is no practical alternative for the pre-Medicare benefits offered, either in the private sector or by the state of Idaho; therefore, the recommendation was made to continue to support this important coverage, bridging benefits between retirement and Medicare eligibility.

For post-Medicare benefits, there are supplemental Medicare plans that, in many cases, are more attractive than the University of Idaho plan for Tier II and III retirees and could save individuals up to $950 annually. Understanding why it can be beneficial for an employee to select a Medicare Supplemental Plan is not always easy. For example, the university plan costs $400 per year but has maximum annual exposure of $3,350. Medicare Plan G costs $200 a month but the costs are largely fixed, producing maximum annual exposure of $2,400 ($950 less in total than the U of I plan). Providing advising support to employees will be critical to helping you evaluate the subtleties of each plan and pick the one that best fits your circumstances. Based on the most recent OPEB census data from Dec. 31, 2018, there were 520 Tier III current employees not eligible to retire before Jan. 1, 2021. We will offer robust advising services for these employees to aid in selecting the best coverage available. All Tier II employees will be eligible to retire by that point and thus will not be impacted.

We will close Tier IV at the end of this fiscal year. This effectively eliminates the sick leave conversion program for future Tier IV employees. This would not impact any current employees, only those hired after June 30, 2020. To assess the impact this may have on recruiting, we polled our peer land-grant institutions and found that this change will align us with the vast majority. We do not, therefore, expect any significant impact on our recruiting efforts.

Consensus and Next Steps

To assess the efficacy of the proposed policy changes, we solicited feedback from across the university, including Faculty Senate, Staff Council, UIRA Board, Distinguished Professors, President's Cabinet, Deans and Center Executive Officers. The feedback was largely supportive of the OPEB Advisory Group recommendations. Most believed these steps were reasonable and fair given the financial challenges the university is facing. It is worth noting that a review of our health plans by our actuary determined that the OPEB Advisory Group recommendations are in line with the benefits offered by nearly all of our 16 peer institutions. If any of our employees or retirees have questions regarding how these policy changes impact them directly, please email opeb@uidaho.edu.

I appreciate the hard work of the OPEB Advisory Group and all those who weighed in on the recommendations. I care about and remain committed to our employees and retirees. Each served our university with honor. I wish we did not find ourselves in a reserve deficit position, but I believe this change best balances the needs of our university with our commitments to our employees and retirees. Our OPEB Advisory Group accomplished that goal. I thank them for their service to our University of Idaho.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 30, 2020
SUBJECT:  First Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19; Threat to Moscow Campus Low


As we have watched and responded to the spread of coronavirus around the world and right here in Idaho, we knew our Moscow community and campus would eventually be impacted. A dedicated team has been focused on this since late January.

Today, we received word that a member of the Vandal Family, a part-time employee, has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The employee has not been on the Moscow campus since March 11 and there appears to be no immediate threat to campus. The employee lives in Nez Perce County and the case is counted in that county’s statistics.

According to the Public Health-Idaho North Central District, the only contacts made in their investigation are household members. From what we know of the guidance from the CDC, this employee was not contagious while on campus.

The employee has mild symptoms, has not been hospitalized and is recovering at home. While the concern of exposure is low, the university has notified the co-workers of this employee’s condition and asked them to monitor for any potential symptoms. Anyone experiencing symptoms should call their healthcare provider for guidance.

Our thoughts are with this employee and their family and we hope for a full and speedy recovery.

The university is committed to communicating about the impact of COVID-19 on our community, whether here in Moscow or around the state. As indicated earlier, if a future, direct threat of COVID-19 is identified, we will use the Vandal Alert email system to notify the community.

It is critical everyone follows the guidance of the state, stays home, maintains social distance and follows basic hygiene tactics, including:

  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Let’s take care of ourselves and each other as we continue to do the great work of our University of Idaho.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 25, 2020
SUBJECT:  Governor Orders Idahoans to Stay Home


Thank you to everyone for your responsiveness and patience as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. It continues to be a fast-changing issue and each day brings new challenges and the need to revisit how we continue to teach, learn and work.

This afternoon, Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced a 21-day stay-at-home order that greatly impacts our state. It will change some university operations, but it does not change the online/remote course delivery model currently in place. Classes will continue online/remotely for the remainder of the semester.

Students

If you are living on campus, staff will continue to ensure your needs are met. The Hub is open on the same limited schedule with take-out only service. All students should adhere to the governor’s direction and not leave residences or engage in social activities, except under limited guidance as outlined by the governor’s proclamation. This may result in you needing to remain in your residence, Greek chapter facility, apartment or house. If you do go out, please continue using social distancing and do not gather in groups.

While buildings on campus, as well as at all our statewide locations, are closed to the public, support services for students are still available. If you need services from any office, call the office or send an email to askjoe@uidaho.edu. If you need technology assistance or need a computing device to complete your studies, contact the ITS Student Technology Center.

All students, regardless of location, should continue to participate in classes under the guidance of your faculty.

Staff

If you can work from home, you are required to do so.

If your work is not possible from home, work with your supervisor to determine if your work is essential to university operations at this time and within the parameters of the governor’s orders. Each vice president and dean is responsible for approving all on-site work.

If you cannot work from home and you are not exempt from the stay-at-home order, you cannot report to work. However, guidance from the state received late Wednesday clarifies that you will retain pay to the extent possible through the use of administrative leave, compensatory time, accrued sick or annual leave, or through the provisions of emergency paid sick leave or emergency family leave as defined by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Temporary and student employees may also be eligible for pay through the FFCRA.

Rules regarding the use of leave at both the federal and state level are still being created, revised and vetted. The university is processing the information as it is received and will provide further guidance once the leave provisions at the federal and state level are finalized.

Faculty

Faculty will continue to teach online/remotely. If you can teach from home, please do so. If necessary, you can still access your classroom for course delivery. Buildings are accessible to employees with keys or keycards, but faculty must follow social distancing guidelines. If you do not already have access to the building in which you teach, call 208-885-SAFE to have the door opened and work with your dean to acquire long-term access.

Research activities at a university facility may continue if they are related to:

  • Animal care (for both teaching and research animals);
  • Maintaining the integrity of research facilities, specimens and data;
  • Actions necessary to maintain ongoing research, but only to the extent that the action can’t be delayed and failure to take the action will result in material loss of research already performed or undue harm to human subjects;
  • Research related to COVID-19.

All continued access to labs and research sites must be approved by your dean or the vice president of research and economic development.

Vandal Community

The response to COVID-19 is changing fast. It creates uncertainty and stress, but also gives us an opportunity to help and support each other as Vandals. This is challenging for us all, but we will get through this together. Thank you, again, for doing your part to help us stop the spread of this dangerous virus.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 25, 2020
SUBJECT:  Employees to Share 1% Merit-Increase Pool


You, our faculty and staff, are the University of Idaho’s greatest assets. The events of the past few weeks have underscored this fact. The service you provide our students impacts lives for the better, fulfills our mission and keeps our institution running smoothly. We have worked hard for the past several years to bring salaries in line with our peers and to ensure you are properly compensated for your work here.

The Idaho Legislature is responsible for the distribution of public funds, which are a key driver in increases in base pay. Increases implemented by the state are known as Change in Employee Compensation (CEC).

The CEC increases have been finalized. Gov. Brad Little proposed, and the Legislature supported, a 2% increase in compensation for FY21. Salaries at Idaho’s public colleges and universities are funded from several different sources including general education (tuition and fees, state appropriations and land-grant endowments), local funds, auxiliaries, grants and contracts, etc. The legislative appropriation will provide approximately 54% of the funding needed to support a full 2% salary increase pool for employees paid from the General Education Fund (the Legislature provides none of the funding for salary increases for employees paid from other funding sources). In the past, we have increased tuition to partially cover the shortfall. However, Idaho’s four-year college and university presidents agreed to freeze undergraduate tuition for the coming year. We believe this is the right decision and will help more Idaho students go on to higher education.

While in many ways the tuition freeze is a good thing, it means our already-limited resources will be stretched even further, and we will be unable to fund salary adjustments to the same level as other state agencies, or to the degree recommended by the governor. All eight public colleges and universities have agreed on an approximately 1% merit-based salary pool increase, across all employee groups, regardless of salary funding source. This agreement is an effort to be equitable across Idaho higher education employees. We will, as in the past, develop and deploy a compensation plan to determine how the salary pool will be distributed across all qualified U of I employees. It is also our intention to fund faculty promotions out of this same pool.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment. You do a tremendous job meeting the needs of our students and campus communities despite limited resources and challenging budget decisions. We have shown in the past few weeks how Vandals continue to be brave and bold in our approach to providing a great experience for our students and for being a great place to work.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Staff
CC:  University of Idaho Faculty
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 24, 2020
SUBJECT:  Work From Home, If You Can


I have heard concerns about our most recent communication and its lack of focus on staff. Please know this email was written to address student concerns and the related and urgent request to extend Spring Break. Rapidly communicating how the immediate change-over to offering classes online contributes to the safety of our community by slowing the spread of COVID-19 was primary in our minds.

Your role at U of I is incredibly important to student success — you work directly with students, helping them move, navigate technology issues, address job loss and providing counseling, to name just a few things. You also keep our buildings clean, feed our community and maintain the campus so we all can comfortably focus on our jobs. Thank you for your hard work and commitment. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and are greatly appreciated.

It is also important for us to keep you as healthy and safe as possible. The need to help slow the spread of coronavirus is becoming more apparent each day. Advice from Idaho Public Health officials indicates working remotely, for those who are able, is one of the ways we can help you and our community. As such, I am asking all employees who have the ability to work from home to do so by the end of the day Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

No paperwork is required, we have temporarily eliminated that requirement, but please work with your supervisor to determine if working from home is the right choice for you and the work you do.

I recognize we have staff who cannot work from home because of the nature of the work performed. By moving as many people as possible out of offices and workspaces, it improves the safety of those who cannot work remotely by reducing exposure and increasing the ability to keep social distance.

Our Moscow campus and our centers around the state remain open, although with limited physical staff. If you need to use your office, please use social distancing and try to self-isolate as much as possible.

Working from home brings its own challenges, not the least of which is caring for children who are out of school, family members who are sick, or not having the technology access needed to be effective. I encourage you to work with your supervisor and do what you can to balance your personal challenges with your work.

We are preparing to implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which is being finalized in Congress this week. The provisions of the FFCRA apply when an employee is unable to work because of COVID-19-related issues. The FFCRA provides emergency paid sick leave under certain conditions related to COVID-19 and will expand family and medical leave to include caring for children due to school or daycare closures. For other absences outside of flexplace and the FFCRA, use of accrued sick and annual leave are still available. Human Resources will share more on this program as it becomes available.

The university’s health benefits also provide for COVID-19 testing, if available, at no cost to you. Learn more by visiting the Care section of U of I’s coronavirus website.

Many of you are already working remotely. But as more do so, departments and even buildings may need to be closed for security reasons if there are no employees present. The decision to close a building has been delegated to the Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek for academic buildings and to Vice President of Finance and Administration Brian Foisy for non-academic buildings. If there is a need to close a building, a template for posting is available for your use. All closed buildings should have contact information on all public access exterior doors. Closures and change-in-service information can also be noted in the Daily Register and MyUI newsletters.

Washington state has put a “Stay at Home” order in place. For U of I employees living in Washington, this means if you cannot work remotely, you can continue to physically work on campus if your job directly supports providing distance learning or providing meals to students. If you are unsure if your job qualifies, please contact your supervisor. If you continue working on campus, please practice social distancing.

These are unprecedented times and the questions we all have far outweigh the answers. Please talk with your supervisor, be kind and flexible and, most of all, take care of yourself and your families. We are the Vandal Family and we will get through this together. Also, know how much we appreciate all you have done, and all you will do on our behalf.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President
Blaine Eckles, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
DATE:  March 22, 2020
SUBJECT:  Flexibility During First Week of Classes After Break


It has been a fast-changing week and we continue to respond to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our lives. Moving all courses to online/remote delivery and reducing the face-to-face interactions of students, faculty and staff are the best methods to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

We are in daily conversations with Idaho Public Health and our local healthcare providers. The latest guidance is to bolster social distancing efforts. Access to many Moscow businesses and campus services have been reduced to reflect the fast-changing situation. Positive diagnosis of COVID-19 in people under 30 has been announced in Whitman County, to the west of Moscow, and Kootenai County, to the north.

We have heard concerns from our students, including in an online petition. These concerns are valid and not unlike those we all face in these uncertain times. These may include:

  • Financial concerns of traveling to move out;
  • Further financial concerns from loss of jobs;
  • Stress of balancing moving out while classes begin;
  • Families who are self-isolated, sick and dealing with personal struggles.

Given the looming threat of infection, the risk of death to some populations, and guidance from our public health professionals, we believe engaging students in classes is an important way to reduce downtime and hinder the overwhelming desire to gather socially and risk further transmission of the virus. Some have understandably advocated delaying the start of classes once Spring Break has concluded, but to do so may result in students returning to campus during a time when they should instead be sheltering in place, causing more significant stress and challenges and increasing risks to personal health.

It may seem that Moscow isn’t highly impacted by coronavirus, but we are in regular contact with local healthcare professionals who believe the virus is already here. We know the virus is already moving through other parts of our state. Due to local testing limits, whether unavailable or delayed, people continue to move through this community freely and risk spreading the virus with or without symptoms.

For these reasons, we will begin online/remote classes as planned on Monday but ask that everyone remain understanding and flexible as we finish our semester. In light of these developments, please review the updated guidance below:

Faculty

  • Be flexible and patient with students who are trying to balance moving home with the demands of classes. Flexibility is especially encouraged in things such as attendance requirements, assignment due dates, class participation, etc. Please understand that some students will also face technology issues as they transition to online/remote learning.
  • Be prepared for students to reach out to you as they are working through this challenging transition as many may be facing a variety of obstacles.
  • We appreciate your efforts to move your classes into this format on such short notice. In fact, these efforts are inspiring. CETL remains available to help you, if needed.
  • If you can teach from home, please do so. If you are not able to do so and must return to your office, we request you engage in social distancing.

Students

  • Classes will begin tomorrow, March 23, via online/remote learning. Please be understanding of the challenges your faculty faces in moving all courses to online/remote delivery. We must all be flexible during this transition.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your faculty if life circumstances are keeping you from class this week.
  • Do not return to Moscow unless you have an urgent need to do so. Staying at your permanent residence is one of the most impactful things you can do for the safety of our communities.
  • If you live in residence halls, your personal items do not need to be picked up until May 16. Please email housing@uidaho.edu for further assistance.
  • If you live in a Greek chapter house, your chapter should work with you to access your items and move out in a reasonable and responsible manner. Please email greek@uidaho.edu for further assistance.
  • If you are returning to Moscow to retrieve personal items, please be intentional and efficient. Get your items and return to your permanent residence as promptly as possible.
  • If you will remain in Moscow, please get settled and immediately engage in social distancing. Gathering in groups simply increases the risk to all. While neither Idaho nor Moscow are currently under a “shelter in place” directive, you should be engaging in social distancing behavior as though we are.

Staff

  • Thank you for continuing the great work you do for the university and our students. Your presence is appreciated as some students return and we move to a new teaching structure.
  • Continue to be understanding of students, faculty and each other as we go through these challenging times.

University leadership is working diligently to provide the best outcomes in a unique and often frustrating situation. If you are experiencing unique challenges, please contact the Dean of Students at askjoe@uidaho.edu, the Provost or President. If you are worried about someone, including yourself, file a CARE report.

Students, your Vandal experience, while different from what we all thought it would be, is still a valued part of your education. While we cannot mitigate every scenario, we are working to make the best decisions for the nearly 12,000 students and 2,600 employees engaged in university classes and functions this spring. Lean more about our response by visiting our coronavirus website.

We care about you, about our community and about doing all we can to slow the spread of coronavirus so we can all come back together again as soon as possible.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

John Wiencek
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

Blaine Eckles
Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

beckles@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/student-affairs/dean-of-students

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  March 19, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Online/Remote for Remainder of Semester, All Events Canceled


President Scott Green

Watch President Green give a COVID-19 update.

In light of the growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our Vandal Family as healthy and safe as possible, University of Idaho will deliver classes online/remotely for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Classes will not return to face-to-face instruction. Faculty must prepare courses so they can be completed by students from any location for the remainder of the semester.

We know this is a huge disruption to our community. Slowing the spread of this virus is vitally important and we need to do our collective part. We will continue to provide quality education and shared experiences to the best of our abilities and within appropriate social distancing guidelines.

The transition to remote course delivery has many unknowns. Many universities across the country are doing this at the same time, which could impact delivery. We must be patient and flexible as we navigate the onset of online/remote education in the coming weeks. These are the plans we have in place currently knowing that additional restrictions and access to services on campus may be necessary in the near future.

Students

If returning to campus is your only option, facilities around the state remain physically open with some modifications, including the Moscow campus. If, however, you wish to remain away from campus and learn from home — which we strongly recommend — you can do so for the remainder of the semester.

University of Idaho Residence Halls are open and Vandals Dining will continue to offer safe options for meal services. If you choose to leave your residence hall for the semester, you have the option to cancel your housing agreement and check out. Housing and Residence Life will offer pro-rated housing and meal credits to your account. An email from Housing and Residence Life with additional details will be sent to all residents shortly. More information is also available on the U of I coronavirus webpage.

Students residing in a fraternity or sorority should contact their chapter leadership as soon as possible for information on their facility and any potential changes.

Additional campus support resources, such as Counseling Services, Academic Advising, Career Services, etc., will also be available for students. If you need support from any of these services, please call the respective office directly prior to visiting to schedule an appointment. Updates to these services will be posted on the U of I coronavirus webpage as they are available.

Student-employees should check with their supervisor about their work. Every effort will be made to help student employees maintain employment, which may mean a shift in work and/or work location, depending on the position. If you are not returning to work but receive work study or teaching assistant payments as part of your financial aid package, you will receive more information as it becomes available.

University Employees

University offices will remain open, so employees should continue working unless you are taking sick leave or approved time off. You may request a flexible working arrangement from your supervisor for COVID-19-related issues including illness, care of family, or caring for school-age children who are out of school. We know not everyone can work remotely due to the nature of their work. If you have questions, please talk to your supervisor.

Most university-related travel, foreign and domestic, is canceled. If your job or research requires travel, it must be approved by your unit supervisor and relevant vice president — this includes research trips, donor visits and all other travel. Only essential university travel will be approved.

Stay home if you are sick. If anyone in your family contracts COVID-19, all family members should self-quarantine according to CDC guidelines. If you run out of sick days, please contact Human Resources. They are developing options to meet the needs of all our employees and federal guidelines are changing to support you.

The university remains open for research and to researchers. Principal investigators and supervisors have the authority and responsibility to manage their research programs. This includes changes to access or approaches to allow for increased social distancing or deferral of lower-priority work. Additional information has been added to the university COVID-19 website and the Office of Research and Economic Development remains open and staffed to provide services to students, faculty and staff on research matters.

Human Resources has worked with our benefits provider to waive the co-pay fees for COVID-19 testing. Other healthcare charges (including the office visit) may still be incurred. More information is available on the U of I coronavirus webpage.

Campus Events

The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America restrict gatherings of groups larger than 10 for the next eight weeks. As a result, the university is canceling all events larger than this size during this time.

Unfortunately, these cancellations include Parent and Family Weekend as well as Spring 2020 Commencement. By making this determination now, we hope everyone is able to cancel any reservations and travel plans. The decision to cancel Commencement was especially difficult. Celebrating our graduates is one of our most important traditions and celebrations. We hope all Spring 2020 graduates can return and participate in the Winter 2020 or Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies. We promise to make them special.

The Student Rec Center is closed until further notice. If you have questions about your membership as a result of this decision, please email recwell@uidaho.edu.

Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for additional information and to review prior messages.

I personally want to say how much I appreciate our Vandal Family around the state and greater Moscow community. I am regularly questioning if we are doing all we can in a prudent and responsible manner for our collective health and safety. We are in uncharted waters — but we are not alone. Brave and Bold Vandals will get to the other side of this. Let’s be supportive, work together and stay healthy.

Keep Calm and Vandal On.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President, and John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  March 13, 2020
SUBJECT:  U of I Moving to Online/Remote Courses Indefinitely


Early Friday evening, the Idaho State Board of Education supported the University of Idaho’s plan to transition from face-to-face to online/remote instruction following Spring Break for an indefinite period of time. For the safety of our communities beginning Monday, March 23, no classes will be held in person. The situation will be evaluated daily, and we will give one-week notice should we return to face-to-face instruction later in the semester.

The university is canceling all events planned for more than 100 attendees while classes are being offered remotely, including the March 28 UIdaho Bound. This event will be moved to a virtual experience for future Vandals. Smaller events may be canceled by the event organizer on a case-by-case basis.

Campus will remain open with all regular services available. The residence halls and campus dining options will remain open. Students in Greek chapter houses should check with their chapter leadership regarding housing options.

Students

You can participate in classes from any location. The Moscow campus, as well as all statewide locations, will remain open and accessible. Please plan for internet access and technology needs. ITS has Chromebooks and iPads you can check out on the Moscow campus.

Faculty

Please communicate with your students about altered delivery methods which must be available for students at a distance. Be flexible and mindful of challenges students may face transitioning to remote learning. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning remains available to help you prepare your classes.

All Employees

You are expected to continue your normal work hours and location. If a change is necessary, please complete the Flexible Work Arrangement Form. The form requires supervisor approval. Human Resources will manage issues of medical accommodation, if necessary.

Updates and information will be provided throughout Spring Break, so please watch your email and visit the university COVID-19 website to stay up-to-date on this fast-changing situation. We continue to work through this challenging time together, as Vandals.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

John Wiencek
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President, and John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  March 13, 2020
SUBJECT:  Be Prepared for Online Class Delivery


While we are all looking forward to Spring Break, please remember to be prepared for the fast-changing world in which we are living. Information about and realities of COVID-19 are changing hourly. Please keep these things in mind:

  • Prepare you classes for electronic delivery March 23-24, but do so knowing you may need to deliver all classes online for a longer period of time;
  • CETL continues to offer group trainings as well as individual consultation to help you transition to electronic delivery.
  • Classrooms from which you normally teach will be available to you, but students will not be allowed to attend in person.
  • Communicate with your students prior to Friday, March 20, about how your courses will be delivered on March 23-24. Clear communication is key for their success.
  • Be mindful of students who have accommodations through the Center for Disability Access and Resources (CDAR). Their accommodation may change as we move online. Watch for communications directly from CDAR and seek guidance from them as needed.
  • Watch your U of I email and the university’s website for updates and further instructions.

All university-sponsored international travel over Spring Break has been canceled. We strongly recommend you do not travel internationally. If you choose to travel to a Level 2 or 3 CDC-identified country, you are expected to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return.

Remember to:

  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The health of our community is a priority. We will all find ourselves stretched, inconvenienced and challenged in the coming months, but we will address this like all things we do — with the students’ best interests in mind. Thank you in advance for your flexibility.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

John Wiencek
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President, and John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President
DATE:  March 11, 2020
SUBJECT:  Prepare for Online Class Delivery Beginning March 23


We continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in our region, and the health of our community is top of mind. While there are not yet any confirmed cases in Idaho, we need to be prepared for online delivery. As such, all classes will be delivered electronically as a test Monday and Tuesday, March 23-24, with a significant possibility of classes remaining online for some time. We ask that all faculty participate in this test and not cancel classes.

Another communication will be sent Thursday, March 19, with updates on class delivery after March 24 as we track the movement of the virus and its impact on our region.

Faculty should prepare courses to be delivered online. Departments and colleges need to find creative solutions for courses that do not easily convert to online delivery. CETL is offering specialized training with individual consultation this week and during Spring Break. All trainings will be recorded and linked to a supplemental help menu on the CETL resource page. To register for a session, visit CETL online. CETL is also scheduling individual and program-level support sessions to assist faculty and departments with specific online course adaptations. Please email CETL at bblearnhelp@uidaho.edu for assistance.

The university will remain open in all locations; however, we may discourage large gatherings. Employees should maintain normal schedules and work locations. Any changes must be approved by your supervisor.

All faculty and staff, regardless of location, should consult the U of I coronavirus webpage regularly for updates. We continue to expand the FAQ section as the situation develops.

Also, continue to follow basic hygiene protocols:

  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We acknowledge this is a major shift in our normal teaching methods. COVID-19 does not care about our land-grant mission, but we do and will do our best to respond in an innovative and caring way.

Please be flexible through the coming months and help one another tackle these challenges. We will get through this together, as Vandals.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

John Wiencek
Provost and Executive Vice President

provost@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/provost

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Feb. 25, 2020
SUBJECT:  Budget Reduction Efforts Progressing 


Many pieces of our budget-reduction plan are in play as we continue through the spring semester. I have visited with several colleges and units and met with staff and faculty to review the initiatives and provide up-to-date information on the status of each. I know this is a lot of information, but my goal of transparency throughout this process requires it. We will also post this on my webpage for your reference at any time. The hard work continues to be done with three primary goals in mind:

  1. Balance revenue and expenses;
  2. Rebuild and maintain adequate reserve funds;
  3. Maintain and build on an exceptional student experience.

In the meantime, some of the decisions are approaching important deadlines and the results will help as we reset and prepare to move beyond the budget challenge. I appreciate your patience, will continue to review feedback and take into account the constructive input from the university community.

Early Success

While we are focused on setting the FY21 budget, it is important to recognize the great work done since July 2019. You acted quickly, putting the institution above your own personal agendas, implementing $14 million in difficult spending reductions. The hard work, sacrifice and commitment of many has put us on track to realize those savings. These cuts will not eliminate our deficit, but they will greatly reduce it. They have slowed our cash burn rate, giving us the time to prepare a long-term plan for balancing our revenues and expenses, rebuilding our reserves and identifying new sources of revenue to fund our priorities.

Voluntary Furlough

The Voluntary Furlough idea, which came at the request of our faculty and staff, has proven popular and has brought a certain solidarity as each of us finds a way to contribute to the future of this institution. As of Jan. 25, 5,231 hours of furlough have been realized, totaling $274,253 across all funding sources. As you evaluate your spring calendar, if it is personally viable, please consider helping us meet the remainder of the state-directed holdback. The program is open until the last working day of the fiscal year, Friday, June 26. Visit the furlough tracker to find up-to-date information on our progress.

FY21 College and Unit Budgets

All vice presidents, deans and unit leads are working on thoughtful and thorough budget reduction strategies that have the least impact on our students and our ability to deliver on our mission of teaching, research, discovery and service. These proposals are informed by other cost-saving tactics, like retirements and separations as well as program prioritization.

Some non-academic units have submitted budget proposals and all academic units continue to work through the process. We should have all proposals in the coming weeks.

Voluntary Separation Plans

We have finalized agreements for the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) and an Optional Retirement Incentive Program (ORIP). Final numbers include:

  • 36 VSIP agreements totaling $2,590,536 in base salary;
  • 76 ORIP agreements totaling $5,855,895 in base salary;
  • 112 total agreements totaling $8,446,431 in base salary.

We will realize fringe savings of $3.1 million in connection with these agreements. Some of these positions will be refilled and we need to fulfill the incentive promises associated with these agreements. Consequently, we will not realize the entirety of the $11.5 million, but a portion of this will be available to address the budget shortfall. While these agreements help on the financial side, we are losing a lot of institutional knowledge in this dedicated group of employees. We wish each person well; please join me in thanking them for their service to our University of Idaho.

Outsourcing

The facilities outsourcing committee has reviewed five proposals from outside companies to support custodial, grounds and maintenance operations across campus (Auxiliary Services, Administrative Operations, Facilities Services and custodial staff at the Student Rec Center). The proposals ranged from management only to full outsourcing. The committee considered the concern and input from our community and is only recommending options that allow all U of I employees to remain as such. The committee will make a final recommendation in the coming weeks.

Texas Book Company will begin to manage textbook sales at the VandalStore. We lost $130,000 managing our textbook sales last year. Texas Book Company will pay us at least $160,000 annually (or 11% of textbook sales, whichever is greater). They have buying power that should have positive results. This is a nearly $300,000 enhancement to our bottom line, which will improve the university’s financial position. All other functions of the VandalStore will remain unchanged.

Public/Private Partnership (P3)

I talk about Public/Private Partnerships at every opportunity. Again, this should not be confused with outsourcing. This is a financial engineering tool that allows an entity, like our steam plant, to be leased long term to an outside company. The full lease payment (often a more than 30-year agreement) is paid up front. While we will need to maintain the cash for annual purchase of steam, the remaining money would be invested in the priorities of the university.

We continue to work through this process and a recommendation will be finalized later this spring.

State Insurance Versus Self-Insurance

After thorough analysis, our university health benefits will remain self-insured, for now. While looking for cost savings by moving to the state’s insurance plan, our review indicated that the move would ultimately cost the university as much as $5 million more. This is due to how the state treats employees who waive medical coverage. (The state still requires payment into the system for these employees.)

Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB)

Changes in accounting standards regarding how retiree benefits are reported diminished the university’s net position by over $30 million in FY18. An OPEB advisory group proposed ways to meet our State Board of Education reserve requirements while still taking into consideration the needs of our employees and retirees.

We have solicited feedback from the leadership of the University of Idaho Retirees Association, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, our Distinguished Professors, as well as the President’s Cabinet, Deans and the Center Executive Officers. Feedback to date has been largely supportive, and the proposal deemed fair given our financial situation. In short, there are no changes to the benefits of those already retired and no changes to pre-Medicare benefits; however, post-Medicare benefits for individuals in Tiers II and III who are not eligible to retire by Jan. 1, 2021, will be phased out over four years. In many cases, Medicare supplement plans are financially superior to the university plan and we expect to provide counselors to help employees pick the best plan for their situation. The sick leave buy-out benefit for Tier IV will also be discontinued for new employees who join the university after June 20, 2020. The benefit will stay in place for existing employees.

These changes will reduce our OPEB liability by approximately $10 million. They alone will not bring our reserves into compliance with State Board of Education requirements but provide a substantial improvement. The next step is to work with the Faculty Senate to update our policies to conform to the new benefit structure. We expect to finalize these policy changes and implement the recommendations shortly.

Sustainable Financial Model Working Group

This first working group has nearly finished providing its feedback on a new financial model. A white paper describing the model will be reviewed by the working group and submitted to our community for comment. This white paper will not address the immediate budget reduction tactics and programs; this group was tasked with recommending an overall financial model that will better fit the long-term financial needs of the university.

Next Steps

I continue to be grateful to the entire Vandal Family for your dedication and selflessness as we move through these challenges. It is not easy. The conversations are hard and the decisions are harder. Keeping the students and our university at the forefront of our decision-making is vital to our success. And, we will need to be kind, empathetic and supportive of each other as we all adjust to the changes.

We will not let these challenges define who we are, as we have much to be optimistic about. The University of Idaho has a tremendous foundation on which to build. We are identifying new revenue sources to invest in strategic areas. We have the brightest students in the state — hard-working Vandals demanded by industry. We conduct world-class research that solves real problems. Together, we will work through our challenges and come out the other side stronger for it.

Thank you again for putting the financial health and strength of the University of Idaho first.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Jan. 16, 2020
SUBJECT:  Shared Services and Reporting Lines for IT Support


As I have indicated in my communications last semester, the university is diligently and deliberately exploring a number of strategies to meet our budget challenges. While any and all options are being reviewed for cost savings, we must also weigh the importance of key services and how they are delivered. In my various discussions, shared reporting lines has been a strategy I promote and one that can have long-term financial and service benefits.

Information technology (IT) is critical to almost all operations at the University of Idaho. The university spends more than $15 million in IT position salaries alone. At the suggestion of Vice President for Information Technology Dan Ewart, we will bring a selective and thoughtful sharing of reporting lines led by Information Technology Services and informed by the university community resulting in:

  • Distributed personnel embedded and responsive to the units they support, when beneficial to our institutional goals;
  • Coordinated personnel management, reporting lines and accountability through ITS;
  • Collaborative work prioritization by units, ITS and the IT Governance & Prioritization process driven by institutional priorities and unit needs to accomplish those priorities;
  • Effective utilization of IT personnel resources.

Change is rarely easy and implementing a modified reporting structure is no exception, but I believe this one will offer new opportunities to IT employees across the institution while providing quality IT services for our community. The efficiencies and effectiveness it can provide will better position the university to achieve its goals.

In the coming days, information will be distributed to supervisors and personnel with significant IT-related duties. Other information, including frequently asked questions, status updates and mechanisms by which you can participate in developing the best possible set of recommendations, will be made available on the IT Shared Services website.

We are committed to keeping our institution informed of progress and of opportunities to be part of this process. Email ITSharedServices@uidaho.edu with questions or suggestions.

To be successful, it is critical that you engage in and support this change. Please respond as requested so we can have the most comprehensive understanding and plan going forward. Recommendations for next steps will be completed this semester and an implementation plan in place by June 30.

Thank you in advance for your support of and participation in this process. Each step we take makes us a stronger institution and better able to meet the needs of our students.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Chandra Zenner Ford, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the President
DATE:  Jan. 6, 2020
SUBJECT:  R1/Research Working Group


This semester will mark the beginning of a new working group to discuss R1 and the University of Idaho’s research endeavors. An R1/Research Working Group has been chartered by President Scott Green to propose a plan for the steps needed to achieve this goal. The group is scheduled to meet for the first time at the end of January.

As you know, the working group model is a tool for informed and transparent decision-making on issues where we can benefit from an inclusive process benefiting all U of I stakeholders. We have already convened two working groups, one focused on a sustainable financial model for the university and another on student success.

The 21-member R1/Research Working Group will examine U of I’s steps to R1 status under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The outcome of this working group will be a report of ideas and actionable tasks that together will outline the best path to resource and implement the process to attain R1 status for the university.

Brad Ritts, associate vice president of research, will chair this working group. We want to thank the individuals below for accepting the invitation to serve. Their work is important to our future and supports one of President Green’s top priorities.

Members include:

  • Brad Ritts, Chair, Associate Vice President, Research
  • Lee Ostrom, Center Executive Officer, Idaho Falls
  • Jerry McMurtry, Dean, College of Graduate Studies
  • Cher Hendricks, Vice Provost, Academic Initiatives
  • Ginger Carney, Dean, College of Science
  • Michael Parrella, Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Janet Nelson, Vice President, Research
  • P. Michael Davidson, Institute Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, University of Tennessee
  • Amy Lientz, Director, Supply Chain – Energy Industry, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Shirley Luckhart, Faculty, Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology
  • Rich Christensen, Director, Nuclear Engineering
  • Diane Kelly-Riley, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
  • Lisette Waits, Department Head, Fish and Wildlife Sciences
  • Tom Ptak, Faculty, Geography
  • Barrie Robison, Faculty, Biological Sciences
  • Raymond Dixon, Department Chair, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Katherine Himes, Director, McClure Center for Public Policy Research
  • Russell McClanahan, Facility Manager, Integrated Research and Innovation Center
  • Trina Mahoney, Assistant Vice President, University Budget and Planning
  • Connor Hill, Graduate Professional Student Association Chair, Chemical Engineering
  • Jane Lucas, Postdoctoral Associate, Soil and Water Systems

University leadership appreciates the willingness of this group to step up and do the work to address this important initiative.

Chandra Zenner Ford
Office of the President
Strategic Initiatives

chandra@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Dec. 20, 2019
SUBJECT:  Continued Work on Budget Challenges


Seven weeks ago, I sent out a campuswide communication regarding our budget issues and the approach we are taking to address our operational and reserve deficits. I appreciate the work you have done to help us address these challenges. Despite the understandable anxiety surrounding the budget cuts we must make, we continue our work inside and outside the classroom, putting our students and the university first.

We promised to be as transparent as possible through this process and to communicate thoroughly and often as we develop and implement strategies to address our budget challenges. Sharing more information may cause stress at times but it is important for you to have as much information as possible to make informed choices.

In the time since the first communication went out, we have held open forums, discussed the process with the Faculty Senate, Staff Council and ASUI representatives, held numerous town halls across campus, issued communications regarding voluntary retirement and separation programs and offered a voluntary furlough program (as suggested by our employees). We will continue to meet with our employees and students to discuss both process and progress as well as communicate the status of our efforts. While progress is fluid, below is an update and answers to some of the more recent and recurring questions we have received.

College and Unit Budgets

All vice presidents, deans and unit leads are committed to addressing ways to cut expenses. Each is compiling a plan for meeting the targets assigned to each college and unit. Plans are due in January. I will review each one and expect to approve most proposals as presented because each vice president, dean and unit lead knows the best way to meet the challenges with the least impact on our students.

We will continue to invest in University Advancement, Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM), and University Communications and Marketing (UCM). We cannot increase enrollment, tell our story or encourage private investment in our mission without investing in these areas. Advancement brought $51 million to the university last year, money we need to continue to raise year in and year out. SEM and UCM have raised our profile and are seeing some early success. These teams are critical to improving our top line revenue.

Voluntary Separation Plans

We recently communicated the availability of a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) and an Optional Retirement Incentive Program (ORIP). Dec. 13 was the deadline for notifications of interest in these programs. Ninety-one people have expressed interest in VSIP and 109 in ORIP. This represents more than $14.5 million, but is not necessarily salary savings as some positions will need to be refilled. We also anticipate that not everyone expressing early interest in these programs will move forward with separation from the university.

Outsourcing

The first Request for Proposals for outside involvement in some university services is complete. The VandalStore will use Texas Book Company to manage its textbook sales. The buying power of this company should have positive results for the VandalStore and our students. All other functions of the VandalStore will remain unchanged. You can still buy your Vandal gear from our own university staff in the store. We continue to evaluate other outsource options keeping in mind the feedback we have heard from our community about how our cuts should not fall primarily on those most vulnerable.

Capital Projects

This week the Idaho State Board of Education approved the next steps of both CAFE and the Seed Potato Germplasm Facility. Many of you have asked how we can progress with these projects while looking at significant budget cuts at the university. Funding for both projects is a combination of state money and gift dollars. These state and gift funds cannot be reallocated to address our structural deficit. We could choose not to build these facilities, but we would have to return the money and we would still have the same operating deficit.

The ICCU Arena is another capital project which falls into this category. Money to build the arena was raised from private donations and student fees dedicated to the arena project. We are not allowed to redirect those funds for another purpose.

Administrative Concerns

One area we have repeatedly heard questions about is administrative salaries. It is true that administrative numbers have grown slightly over the past few years, primarily due to growth in the associate dean category. Human Resources recently compiled a market-based compensation report that shows executive salaries to be in line with the target salaries for such positions and behind the campus overall average of 96.25% of target (executives are at 94.84% of target).

Next Steps

There are many pieces to the budget puzzle, but the picture is beginning to come into focus. We will know more in the new year and will spend much of the spring semester making decisions about the path forward as outlined by leadership, faculty, staff and the Sustainable Financial Model Working Group.

The conversations we are having are not easy. The decisions are even harder. Keeping the students and our university at the forefront of our decision-making is vital. The choices we make now will set the stage for reinvestment and future success. We will not let the challenges we face define who we are, as we have much to be optimistic about. We are a top 100 public university. We are a U.S. News and World Report best value institution. We are making progress in our enrollment management and outreach programming. Attendance at our recruitment events is increasing. Our FY20 marketing efforts are vibrant and gaining traction with billboards across the state, bus wraps in the Treasure Valley, a new Breakthrough television spot hitting the airwaves and social media, a toolkit to engage our alumni in recruiting, and we have Vandalized over 1,000 classrooms inside and outside our state. Our commitment to our students is as strong as ever. I have said it before and will say it again; the important, impactful work that happens every day on our Moscow campus and at our centers, Extension and research sites across the state matters and makes a difference. We have much to be proud of. Together we will work through this challenge and come out braver and bolder for our efforts.

Thank you again for your continued work as we move through this set of challenges. We wish everyone a restful and joyous holiday season.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 22, 2019
SUBJECT:  Voluntary Employee Separation Programs Offered


As I mentioned in a memo to all of you earlier this week, in addition to voluntary employee furlough, university leadership is offering two more voluntary options for staff and faculty to consider as we work to address our budget challenges.

Those who choose to participate in one of these incentive programs will be contributing toward reducing the $14 million deficit in FY20, and the projected additional $8 million deficit in FY21, for a total $22 million overall budget deficit.

Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)

VSIP is an option for eligible employees to voluntarily separate from the university. This program is available to employees who have at least 10 years of consecutive service to the university without an already-approved resignation or retirement announcement. Employees who meet the VSIP requirements will receive 33 percent of his or her FY20 budgeted salary (from any source except ARES, FUR, IGS, WWAMI, WIMU-VetMed) in exchange for resignation. ARES includes Hatch, Smith-Lever, Multi-State Research, County Extension and State ARES funding. Employee separation payments would be made after the start of FY21..

Optional Retirement Incentive Program (ORIP)

The ORIP is available to employees who are 55 years of age or older, have worked at least 20 consecutive years for the university and do not have an approved retirement plan, among other criteria. This option pays a retiree 20 percent of his or her FY20 budgeted salary (from any source except ARES, FUR, IGS, WWAMI, WIMU-VetMed) annually for five years. ARES includes Hatch, Smith-Lever, Multi-State Research, County Extension and State ARES funding. Employee separation payments would be made after the start of FY21.

How to Apply

Both programs have specific criteria, eligibility and timelines. Applications for consideration for VSIP and ORIP are due Dec. 13, 2019, with the last day of work no later than June 26, 2020. An application is neither approval from the university to participate nor a commitment on behalf of the employee. An application begins the review process and is followed with a potential offer and a 45-day employee review period for the employee to consider the offer.

As you consider either of these options and assess whether they are right for you, we continue to work on other cost-saving strategies, including program prioritization on the academic side of the university, as well as budget reduction measures in our non-academic units.

There is no expectation or pressure that employees apply for these programs, but it is important to provide options for those of you who decide voluntary separation or retirement makes sense. We appreciate your hard work and leadership as we continue to unite in our purpose — bringing our expenses in line with our revenue and creating a sustainable financial model that will carry our great university well into the future.

If you have questions about this, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources at 208-885-3638.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Nov. 20, 2019
SUBJECT:  State Budget Reset and Voluntary Employee Furlough


We recently learned that Gov. Brad Little has asked all state agencies to reduce their budgets by 1% in FY20 and 2% in FY21. These reductions are intended to reset state spending and are not in response to a state budget shortfall. The revenue the state raises for this purpose will remain in the state’s reserves. We have communicated to the governor’s staff that we have already made $14 million in budget cuts, but the University of Idaho must nevertheless respond to this request and reduce our FY20 budget by 1% (approximately $1 million), before June 30, 2020. We must also plan to reduce our FY21 budget by 2% (approximately $2 million).

While everyone at the university is already working together to develop plans to cut costs in the short-term and the Sustainable Financial Model Working Group is developing a financial model to guide how the university manages its budget over the long term, the additional challenge of raising $1 million in this fiscal year is a one-time event and will be handled as such.

I know there are many questions about the changes coming and how colleges, units and the entire university will be impacted. We don’t have all the answers right now, but I can tell you the changes we make now will set the university up to be stronger, more focused, better able to deliver on our land-grant mission and meet the needs of our students and our state.

Voluntary Furlough

The feedback we have received from our community since the budget forum on Nov. 7 covers a lot of topics. One suggestion we have heard repeatedly, and one that brings me great pride in our shared commitment to our university, is voluntary employee furlough. While volunteering for furlough is no small thing, it is an expedient and immediate way for employees to help the university reduce costs and there appears to be strong interest from our employees to contribute.

To help us meet the estimated $1 million reduction in our current budget, the executive leadership team and I are participating in voluntary furlough. I will take five furlough days and 95% of the cabinet is also participating. Voluntary furlough is also an option to all eligible employees — all employees except teaching assistants, research assistants, temporary employees or anyone working in the United States on a H1B Visa. All eligible U of I employees may take up to five furlough days between now and late spring — dates vary for nine- and 12-month contracts. There is no requirement to participate, nor are there repercussions for those who decide not to participate. This is a very personal decision and we respect whatever choice you make.

You may take furlough for as little as one hour and as much as five days, but you cannot cancel classes for furlough. No work can be done while furloughed and all furlough must be pre-approved by your supervisor, as with any form of leave.

In addition, Non-Faculty Exempt (NFE) employees and non-teaching faculty who take furlough are limited to working no more than 40 hours, less the amount of furlough taken, in any week furlough is taken. This is a federal labor law requirement, explained in more detail in the voluntary furlough FAQ. If you decide to take furlough, you can record this time on your timesheet under the “Furlough” heading.

Long-term staffing is another area we are looking at to reduce costs, including a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program and an Optional Retirement Incentive Program. More detailed information about these two options will be provided to you soon.

As you consider whether voluntary furlough is right for you, my leadership team and I will continue to review comments and cost-cutting/saving ideas submitted through the online response form. No idea is too big or too small. I know that together we will put together the right combination of cost-saving measures to meet our goals and strengthen the institution.

If you have questions about this, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources at 208-885-3638.

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Faculty and Staff
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Oct. 30, 2019
SUBJECT:  Budget and Financial Planning Update


When I came to the University of Idaho in July as the 19th president, I pledged to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and supporters that I would bring my passion for my alma mater and my experience in business and shared governance to support the work you do every day. I also said collaboration, transparency and informed decision-making are my guiding principles. It is time to put those principles into practice under the most difficult of circumstances.

The university is facing significant budget challenges that must be addressed in a thoughtful, deliberate way to most effectively fulfill our land-grant mission of teaching, discovery and service. We must elevate our institution to be the very best version it can be, and to do that, we must work together to improve our financial position. None of you put us here, but nevertheless we must work together collaboratively to put our university back on solid financial footing. That collaboration starts with communication.

We will communicate using a variety of methods over the next few months as we develop and implement strategies to address our budget challenges. We will be as transparent as possible. I realize that sharing more information may cause stress at times. With that said, it is university leadership’s job to provide you with the most complete and up-to-date information available and to provide reasonable and effective solutions to fiscal challenges.

I will provide periodic written and video communications to keep you informed. College and unit-specific communications will be coming as well as communications from members of the leadership team on other budget-related topics at a more local level.

We will host an open forum next week on the Moscow campus (also via Zoom, separate announcement to come) to discuss these issues as a community and I plan to meet with colleges and units in the coming months to talk about the budget challenges and plans to address them.

The Budget Challenges Defined

The university has two primary financial goals:

  1. Balance revenue and expenses
  2. Rebuild and maintain adequate reserve funds

The bottom line is this: we have been living beyond our means, and we don’t have enough resources in reserve. As you know from managing your own personal finances, if you’ve got more money going out than is coming in, you’ve got two choices: increase revenue or reduce expenses. The same is true for U of I. To increase revenue, we need to either increase the amount of money we get from state appropriations and taxpayer dollars (49% of our general education budget), or increase what we bring in from tuition (45% of our general education budget). We are not expecting increases in either of these areas so our only other option is to reduce expenses.

Balancing Revenue and Expenses

I recognize before my arrival at the university, you went through budget cuts. But these cuts did not fully address the coming deficits and additional, new issues have emerged that required our attention.

During FY19, the university community completed a $5 million one-time reduction across all units of the institution. In addition to these one-time cuts, we implemented base budget reductions for FY20 to start the process of bringing our expense budget into alignment with our revenues annually.

You may wonder about whether funding for projects like the ICCU Arena or the CAFE initiative adds to our budget challenges. These are capital projects and are financed by gifts, funding from the State of Idaho and student fees, not through operations or budget cuts. Our budget shortfall issues would still exist even if we weren’t moving forward with these projects.

Rebuilding and Maintaining Reserve Funds

In FY18, several factors diminished the university’s net position (our reserves) including changes in accounting standards ($33 million impact) and operating losses ($21 million impact). We also recognized about a $19 million shortfall in FY19. The university used its reserves to cover its expenses, which is not a sustainable way to operate. In fact, we not only needed to leave those balances untouched, we needed to increase them.

Last spring, university leadership including deans, vice presidents, Faculty Senate, Staff Council and ASUI began considering ways to recover cash and keep our reserve balance from falling. This group agreed upon a distributed and collaborative approach, rather than a centralized approach, to stop further erosion of our reserve balance.

What Cost-Cutting Have We Done So Far in FY20?

As mentioned above, the university completed $5 million in budget cuts for FY19 before I came on board as president. When I started in July, we anticipated an additional operating shortfall of $14 million for FY20. This shortfall adds to the financial challenges we have seen in seven of the past 10 years in the general education fund. We had work to do.

To reduce costs and continue to bring expenses into alignment with revenues, each vice president was asked to make one-time reductions in their general education budgets effective July 1, 2019. These budget reductions were strategically passed down to the colleges and units with the expectation that they manage to those targets. This approach allowed flexibility in how reductions are met.

In addition, to slow and reverse a further decrease in our reserve balances, unrestricted fund types are also being monitored and spending controlled with a goal of maintaining existing cash balances (i.e. balances on June 30, 2020, must be equal to or greater than cash balances on July 1, 2019).

In July, I began meeting monthly with all who report directly to me — including vice presidents, other leaders as well as the dean of each college — to review the budget plans each college and unit diligently compiled. I am proud that, almost without exception, our team put the interests of the university first. We are now almost four months into implementing these plans, we are on target, and I appreciate the commitment our community has made to meet this fiscal year’s budgetary goals while also maintaining the quality education, outreach and research for which we are known. This is not easy work and I am grateful to our community for stepping up and making the tough but necessary decisions that are keeping us on the right path.

FY21 and Beyond

The $14 million budget reductions we put in place for FY20 will become permanent base budget cuts going forward. In addition, the student enrollment mix and current enrollment trends suggest that tuition will likely decline another $8 million over the next two years. With this in mind, we estimate the budget shortfall will total $22 million by FY22. This figure includes the $14 million in budget reductions already in process plus $8 million in anticipated additional cuts. We are using this estimate to inform our long-term cost reduction plan.

Using the same approach we took last spring to implement the $14 million budget reduction, the vice presidents, deans and unit leads will guide decision-making regarding how to meet the additional $8 million budget adjustment in a collaborative and systemic way. Consistent with our commitment to shared governance, Provost John Wiencek is working collaboratively with Faculty Senate and Staff Council leadership to develop a strategy to reduce expenditures in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Strategic Enrollment Management, etc. This strategy will likely include forming task forces/ad hoc committees as well as reinstituting the Institutional Planning and Effectiveness Committee to guide the work.

I will add that correcting our current course will require strategic investment in some areas of the university to grow enrollment and continue to build brand equity. We will invest in enrollment management and recruitment, communications and marketing and advancement/development because we must. Increasing revenue is in large part dependent upon how well we market to and recruit new students and how well we maintain strong and meaningful relationships with our alumni, donors and friends.

Next Steps

We will continue working closely with university leadership and campus shared governance groups on the details of the steps to be implemented as the budget reduction plans are implemented across colleges and units. While this is a difficult thing to communicate to our university community, in order to correct our current course and reduce expenses, we are expecting, among other things, to make reductions in our workforce. Following are some of the strategies we may consider in order to reduce costs. This list is by no means comprehensive and is not in order of priority. It is subject to change and colleges and units may employ different strategies to reach their goals:

  • Academic program eliminations
  • Centralizing services across the university
  • Contract non-renewals and layoffs
  • Early retirement and voluntary separation incentives
  • Not filling vacant positions
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Outsourcing/contracting some services
  • Salary reductions and furloughs

Working Group Update

So far, the university’s focus has been on resourcing our activities in the short-term while working on a sustainable plan for balancing our revenue and expenses. These discussions have not been easy, but are vital to achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. In order to meet our mission, we must meet the expectations and needs of our students, our communities and our state.

As the university community works together to reduce costs and hold our reserves steady, we have convened a Sustainable Financial Model Working Group that will work together using their collective expertise, experience and research to develop a sustainable financial model for the university. This working group is broad-based and includes representatives from faculty, staff, students and content experts outside the university. This group met for the first time on Oct. 4 and will meet again Nov. 12. The group will focus on high level financial modeling options that will build in the ability to invest in strategic priorities and initiatives. While the details are yet to be developed, the goal is to create a model that aligns budgets with enrollment. The right model will benefit the University of Idaho long term and ensure its financial health. I expect this group to report its conclusions and recommendations in early 2020 with implementation of a sustainable financial model to follow.

Our Challenges Don’t Define Us. How We Meet Them Does.

Every problem has a solution. Our financial position must be improved for the long term and it will take discipline, strength and persistence to do that. We did not get here overnight so it will take some time to correct our course and I am confident we will be successful. We have big goals for the University of Idaho so we simply must take firm action now to deliver on our top priorities:

  1. Support student success by striving to be an innovative, outcomes-oriented institution for our students. We must bolster how we grow our enrollment, enhance our retention efforts, improve our graduation rates, and ensure career success. We must deliver the breakthrough experiences our students deserve and our state demands.
  2. Ensure excellence across our research, scholarship and creative activity. We are Idaho’s premier research university. We will continue to connect research to the student experience, and we’ll continue to do work that makes a difference in our world.
  3. Champion the University of Idaho. We have incredible stories to tell. Lives changed. Discoveries made. Impact generated for communities, organizations, and industries. I am proud of this university’s excellence, and will continue to ensure our story is told in the media, in our communities, and in the corridors of power in this state.

We must develop a spending reduction plan that will allow us to provide the resources we need to ensure that we are delivering an exceptional educational experience to all of our students and driving our research and outreach programs forward. At times, the path we are on may leave you feeling discouraged. But please remember we are putting our fiscal house in order so that we can fulfill our mission and continue the great work you do every day.

The challenges we face do not define who we are. But the way we show up and manage through them does. We have much to be optimistic about. We are making progress in our enrollment management and outreach programming. Attendance at our recruitment events is increasing. Our FY20 marketing efforts are vibrant and gaining traction. And our commitment to our students is as strong as ever. The important, impactful work that happens every day on our Moscow campus and at our centers, extension and research sites across the state, matters and makes a difference. We have much to be proud of. Together we will work through this challenge and come out braver and bolder for our efforts.


president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  University of Idaho Community
FROM:  Chandra Zenner Ford, Strategic Initiatives
Office of the President

DATE:  Sept. 5, 2019
SUBJECT:  University Working Groups


Welcome back! The president and I look forward to working with you to make 2019-20 a great academic year for our students, faculty and staff. As many of you have learned from President Scott Green’s early communications, he intends to use a working group model as a way to garner input to address some of the bigger challenges we face. The process is intended to take a deep look at all aspects of the strategic areas of focus for this first year and beyond. We know there are many questions about the working groups and the sustainable financial model working group in particular, and we want to answer those questions.

The working groups are a tool for informed, transparent decision-making on issues where we can benefit from an inclusive process representing all stakeholders. Our first working group this fall will address our desire to implement a sustainable financial model. The university has been unable to balance its operating results in seven of the past 10 years, resulting in dangerously low reserves. John Wiencek, provost and executive vice president, and Brian Foisy, vice president for finance and administration, will co-chair the sustainable financial model working group. We intend to select appropriate leaders to chair the other working groups as they are formed. For instance, our new athletic director, Terry Gawlik, will chair the sustainable athletics model working group. We expect to also form working groups for enrollment management, student experience, Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, as well as online education. This list is not exhaustive.

We plan to engage a facilitator to help our working groups stay focused, to prepare communications during the process and to create roadmaps for implementation of the recommendations. The working group conclusions will be shared with the cabinet, Faculty Senate and Staff Council for feedback before roadmaps are finalized and recommendations implemented. The groups will be made up of a diverse and representative group of administration, faculty, staff, students and external experts. The sustainable financial model working group will begin meeting in early October and complete its work by early 2020.

We want to thank the following members of our internal and external U of I community for accepting the invitation to serve:

Sustainable Financial Model Working Group

  • John Wiencek, Provost and Executive Vice President, Co-chair
  • Brian Foisy, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Co-chair

Internal Representation

  • Margarita Cardona, Director, Administrative Services, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Cari Espenschade, Vice Chair, Staff Council; Administrative Coordinator, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
  • Stephanie Fox, Manager, Facilities and Operations, U of I Boise
  • Terry Grieb, Chair, Faculty Senate and Faculty, College of Business and Economics
  • Patrick Hrdlicka, Faculty, Chemistry
  • Brian Johnson, Faculty, Engineering
  • Jerrold Long, Dean, College of Law
  • Jacob Lockhart, President, Associated Students University of Idaho
  • Alexis Murray, President, Student Alumni Relations Board
  • Brad Ritts, Associate Vice President, Office of Research and Economic Development

External Representation

  • Sharon Allen, (retired) Chairman, Deloitte
  • Annette Elg, (retired) CFO, The J.R.Simplot Co.
  • Craig Olson (retired) CFO, Albertsons
  • Carson Howell, CFO, Idaho State Board of Education

We deeply appreciate the dedication, expertise and service each of these members bring to this complex issue.

The president and I recognize that our budget issues create anxiety and concern about our future. We will endeavor to keep you abreast of the working group’s progress and are committed to moving beyond our financial issues. We appreciate the effort by all to put the university first. While we have some hard decisions to make, we will do this together and ultimately establish a sustainable financial future. Please feel free to reach out to either the president or me with any questions.

Office of the President
Strategic Initiatives
Chandra Zenner Ford

chandra@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

TO:  Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni and Friends
FROM:  Scott Green, President
DATE:  Aug. 7, 2019
SUBJECT:  Introducing Our New Director of Athletics


Today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Terry Gawlik as our new director of athletics at the University of Idaho. Terry’s hire was approved by the State Board of Education today and we look forward to her beginning work as a Vandal Sept. 1. She brings 25 years of leadership experience in intercollegiate athletics, including 14 years as the designated senior woman administrator at the University of Wisconsin.

As Wisconsin’s senior associate athletic director for sport administration, Terry serves as a key member of Wisconsin’s senior staff and is responsible for the direct supervision of 10 sports and associated budgets, six head coaches and 425 student-athletes. Her career includes extensive leadership roles on Big Ten Conference and NCAA committees. Over the past 12 years, she has chaired the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee and the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee. She has a broad network of athletic directors, coaches and NCAA personnel.

Terry has been a critical leader in her department’s strategic plans, policies and decision-making processes, including gender equity and diversity issues, coaching staff evaluations, recommendations and contract extensions. Terry also oversees the department’s implementation and compliance with policies and procedures regarding Title IX, gender equity, diversity and sexual assault and violence training. Her depth and breadth of experience will be invaluable at U of I. Learn more about her experience.

Terry leads with vision, integrity and enthusiasm. She is dedicated to fostering a culture that allows all student-athletes to be heard, to succeed and to experience standout programs. This commitment means ensuring a supportive environment at all levels, allowing our student-athletes to excel in competition, in the classroom and in the community. It means striving to win championships in our sports. And it means applying strong fiscal stewardship to budget challenges we face within the department.

Terry and I are both aware we have work to do to build on our excellence. We need to form strong relationships, to engage our fans and alumni and to renew our brave and bold spirit to meet our challenges on the field and as a department. I am eager to accomplish those goals.

I appreciate the work that goes into making a major hiring decision like this. First, thank you to our Athletics Department staff who, even with uncertainty, have patiently continued to serve student-athletes with diligence and dedication. Thank you to the search advisory committee participants and the interview team who took on this task with the seriousness that our students and staff deserve. And thank you to the broader community of alumni, fans and friends who have continued to support our student-athletes and our programs.

As we head into the academic year, I am looking forward to Terry’s leadership, the continued efforts of all our student-athletes and what we can accomplish together in this new era for Vandal Athletics.

Go Vandals!

Scott Green
President

president@uidaho.edu
uidaho.edu/president

I am thrilled to be back in Moscow among this great Vandal Family. This is a new chapter for the University of Idaho and a time for positive change.

To all our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, I pledge to bring a lifetime of passion for my alma mater and years of experience in business and shared governance to support the work you do every day. I cherish this place and view our people as our most important asset. Let’s be excited about what we can accomplish together as we harness our momentum.

As an alumnus, I’ve stayed connected to the university as my career took me around the globe. I know our land-grant university remains a special place, earning a well-deserved reputation for student success, a dynamic research enterprise and a strong connection to communities. The challenges ahead are opportunities for growth and for new ideas to take shape.

There is no place quite like the University of Idaho. This great research university is where breakthroughs happen. Vandals are on the front lines of everything from space exploration to cybersecurity to agriculture and natural resources. We’re leaders in the arts and social sciences. Let’s write new chapters in that success story.

President of the University of Idaho to forward to Facebook video

Click here to watch a video message from the president.

Where do we go from here? Our Strategic Plan remains a useful guide to get started. With that underpinning, I have three key priorities to deliver on our mission and elevate our institution. I hope for this to be a renaissance period for U of I. After some hard work setting us up for success, we can be the model that other universities look to. We can be the very best version of the University of Idaho.

I feel we can make significant progress on these priorities over the year ahead:

  • Supporting student success: U of I can and should be an innovative, outcomes-oriented institution for our students. Let’s closely examine and work to bolster how we grow our enrollment, enhance our retention efforts, improve our graduation rates and ensure career success. We must deliver the breakthrough experiences our students deserve and our state demands.
  • Ensuring excellence across our research, scholarship and creative activity: We are Idaho’s premier research university. I learn more every day about the innovation and ingenuity of our faculty and research teams, and I am deeply impressed. We will continue to connect research to the student experience, and we’ll continue to do work that makes a difference in our world.
  • Championing the University of Idaho: We have incredible stories to tell. Lives changed. Discoveries made. Impact generated for communities, organizations and industries. I am proud to be ambassador-in-chief for U of I excellence and will fight to see our story told in the media, in our communities and in the corridors of power in this state. Let’s be proud of our success!

If we excel in those principal priorities, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

As I’ve said, we have challenges. When it comes to budgeting, we need to be able to resource our activities in the short term and the long term. Revenues simply must meet expenses. We also need to make key hires in places like athletics and elsewhere, processes that are already underway.

To immediately take action on our priorities and our challenges, I’m placing an emphasis on informed decision-making, strategic relationships and a reconfigured leadership structure. We are developing working groups made up of people from inside and outside the university and covering multiple areas — university finances, the student experience, and athletics, for instance. Working groups will listen, learn, discuss and then bring recommendations back to me for informed decision-making. They will also help produce and guide roadmaps to implement that decision-making. Chandra Zenner Ford, based in Boise, rejoins U of I to manage the progress of these groups. We will also work on our relationships with key stakeholders, including our State Board of Education. A strong relationship with our board is critical for progress across areas at U of I to meet long-term goals. Based in Moscow, Toni Broyles, another U of I alumna rejoining our team, will lead stakeholder engagement.

I’ll also be meeting regularly with our faculty, student and staff leadership, as well as our community members in Moscow and statewide. Expect more details on these approaches as I have a chance to engage more and the semester draws near. Collaboration, transparency and informed decision-making are my guiding principles.

Tomorrow we’ll have a barbecue on campus, and I’m looking forward to connecting with Vandal friends and community members. After that, I plan to travel around our statewide locations to listen and learn from our Vandals and others. I look forward to being amazed, and strengthening my Vandal pride, if that’s even possible.

I hope you’ll reach out to me or follow my Facebook page. I’m also happy to chat by phone or meet in person. Thank you for the warm welcome to this prestigious role — it truly is an honor. I look forward to working with you to deliver on our mission for our students and our state, now and in the future.

Go Vandals!

C. Scott Green
President

U of I Budget and Financial Planning Update of Oct. 30, 2019

President C. Scott Green discusses the university’s budget situation.

Contact Us

Physical Address:
Administration Building
Room 105
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

208-885-6365
president@uidaho.edu

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 3151
Moscow, ID
83844-3151

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