Published: June 22, 2020

Dear CU Boulder Staff,

With the announcement of campus-wide 5% reduction in pay late last week, your incoming Staff Council chairs and Human Resources want to reach out to all of you to acknowledge we’ve heard your concerns and recognize the personal commitment and sacrifice many of you are making during this time. As our chancellor has expressed, these pay reductions are necessary to address the fiscal challenges CU Boulder is experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the move to remote teaching, learning and working this past spring.  

While the impact of this action will be deeply felt by many staff and faculty across campus, it is intended to minimize the need for more severe personnel actions.  Campus leadership was guided by two primary principles in their decision-making: taking actions to address our fiscal challenges while creating the least overall impact to employees, and taking actions that are as equitable as possible in terms of application to faculty, staff and administrators.  
As a reminder, CU Boulder also implemented a hiring pause in April which is still in effect.  It was also chosen based upon these same principles.
Some people have questioned why staff who received the pay reductions were given twelve days of leave to use over the twelve month period.  This was intended to lessen the impact of the 5% reduction by granting roughly the equivalent in days off over the same time period.

Some groups were not included in the campus-wide furlough such as classified employees who are exempt under state law and employees who were already on departmental furloughs of at least 5% reductions in pay.  All administrative officers are receiving a 10% pay reduction and equivalent furloughs over this same period of time.

With these difficult measures in place and with fall enrollment numbers looking good at this time, our outlook for the fall is hopeful. Many of the departments that experienced the most continuous furloughs, such as Housing & Dining, are already returning employees to work as we prepare to welcome students and faculty to campus in the fall semester. We are hopeful that there will not be a need for future personnel actions. We are hopeful that there will not be a need for large departmental budget reductions. We are hopeful that the rest of our colleagues who have been on continuous furlough can soon return to work.

With plans for a successful fall semester in motion, and many staff returning to campus while also many continue to work remotely, we believe the future will start to look more certain.  Yet we also recognize that the uncertainty of the past few months has created a great deal of stress and anxiety.  Interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke, Staff Council, and HR pledge to do our part to lessen that anxiety by communicating transparently with you as future decisions are made. We recognize that your access to information is often determined by where you work and which functional area you reside in and we hope to create a centralized communication plan to ensure all staff have equal access to information, during this pandemic and beyond. This will include future Staff Council newsletter articles as well as an Open Forum with senior leadership to address updates as we know more.

In the meantime, please remember there are great resources available to you should you need them.  In the spring, the chancellor created the Staff and Faculty Emergency Fund with matching funds from donors to support employees who suffer real hardship as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic or other financial emergencies.  While the fund is not intended to replace the 5% reduction in pay, it is available to those who demonstrate significant need.  And as always, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is available to any employee who needs emotional support.

Thank you for all that you are doing to support CU Boulder and each other and know that we see how remarkable you are and we are grateful to have you as colleagues.  We see every day how important the staff are to the critical functions of CU Boulder. COVID-19 has tested our community and our campus but is also increasing resiliency and fostering innovation in our staff in ways that will contribute to our future success.   We look forward to the time when we can again connect with colleagues down the hall or catch up over lunch on campus. Staff Council remains the representative body for all staff (including those impacted by furloughs and pay cuts) and is committed to being your voice on campus. Continue to watch your Staff Council communications and CU Boulder Today for opportunities to connect and engage. Additionally, your experiences and insights through this difficult time are valuable and we invite you to share them with Staff Council here.

In Service,

Katherine Erwin, Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer
Lisa Landis, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Employee Relations and HR Operations
Shelby Javernick, Co-Chair of Staff Council 2020-2021
Chris Muldrow, Co-Chair of Staff Council 2020-2021
Dylan West, Co-Chair of Staff Council 2020-2021