Executive VP Cullinan: update to faculty and staff

Author: Andy Fuller

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,

My deepest thanks for the teamwork, dedication and compassion you have demonstrated in this unprecedented time. The coronavirus pandemic has presented truly extraordinary challenges for the world and our nation, as well as for the University of Notre Dame. I am humbled and inspired by the way you have responded with care and concern for one another.

As you know, in order to reduce the spread of this terrible virus, our President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., has suspended all in-person classes through the end of the semester, and our Provost, Tom Burish, has suspended nearly all laboratory research operations. I write to you today with additional information about remote work, the financial challenges the University faces and our commitment to do everything we can to support you.

Our primary commitment at this time is to the health and well-being of you and your family, and to doing all we can to prevent the further spread of the virus.  Therefore, we expect those who can work remotely to continue to do so until further notice. Due to the fact that certain operations of the University must continue—among others, the power plant, security and fire, custodial services, dining services, core I.T. support, faculty and student instructional support and those caring for community members living on campus—essential employees will be required to work on campus. During this crisis, we may ask some employees to take on responsibilities different than their usual ones in areas where further assistance is needed.

As you are likely aware, the measures needed to respond to this pandemic have created uncertainty in our economy and a severe downturn in the markets, which has led to a financial crisis for our nation and for higher education. In response, we have already begun to implement a series of measures to curb expenses and control spending. On March 16, I sent a letter to all hiring managers announcing a staff hiring freeze, which will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. We have cut University travel and are asking leaders across campus, especially business managers, to dramatically reduce expenses while supporting core operations. It is absolutely critical that we all exercise prudent stewardship of our resources in the weeks and months ahead.

While I must underscore the seriousness of the financial challenges we face, I also want to assure you that we are committed to doing everything we can to support you, our employees, who have been so dedicated to Notre Dame. We will continue, at this time, to provide pay and benefits to all full-time and benefits-eligible part-time regular employees at their current base rate of pay or normally-scheduled work hours. Pay and benefits will continue for regular employees, including those for whom there is a temporary lack of work, those who are self-quarantined in keeping with public health and University requirements and those who are working from home due to caregiving obligations that have arisen as a result of this health emergency (e.g. widespread school closings). For additional information, please visit the University's coronavirus website.

We will continue to assess our financial position in light of the turbulent markets and rapidly evolving financial landscape. As circumstances unfold, we will provide you with regular updates regarding further measures the University may need to implement.  

These are exceptional times that have required dramatic adjustments in our work and personal lives as part of a global effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. I am deeply grateful for the ways in which you have come together as a community to rise above the challenges before us. We are indeed blessed by a united Notre Dame spirit and culture that will continue to serve us well in the months ahead. Please know of my prayers for the safety and health of you and your loved ones. 

Yours in Notre Dame,