On Thursday, May 7, as students were finishing finals, University President Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD sent an email to members of the community with an update of the University’s response to the evolving COVID-19 disruptions. The email included information students and faculty have been eager to know, especially regarding the possibility of school on-campus in the fall and the financial impact of the novel coronavirus on salaries and spending. The Villanovan compiled the following 10 takeaways from Father Peter’s note:
1. At this point, the University has every intention of holding a traditional, on-campus fall semester, barring any directives that prevent the school from doing so.
2. Father Peter anticipates announcing the plans for the fall by the beginning of July.
3. The University refunded students more than $16 million for room and board for the spring semester.
4. All University new construction and renovation projects are suspended for the time being.
5. There will be no salary increases for the fiscal year 2021.
6. The University will continue its temporary hiring freeze with limited exceptions.
7. Furloughs are no longer being considered for June and July.
8. The 23 friars at the University will have their monthly stipends temporarily reduced by 10 percent.
9. The Cabinet, Deans, and Father Peter, along with approximately 60 senior staff members and administrators, will have their pay reduced by 10 percent for the months of June and July.
10. The degree conferral for the Class of 2020 will be the first online ceremony in the University’s 178-year history.
Father Peter reminded the community that the University’s course of action was determined by the following considerations: significantly cutting costs while preserving jobs, providing students and families with support during this unprecedented time of unemployment, and holding true Augsutinian values of unitas, veritas, and caritas by placing the needs of the community before the needs of the individual.
While much remains uncertain, it is clear that COVID-19 has had serious financial ramifications for the University, students, faculty and community. As many schools across the nation are beginning to publicize plans for the fall semester, Father Peter’s note offered transparency into how the University has handled various impacts of the pandemic.