Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Law Center Follow Up to Financial Response to COVID-19

Date Published: May 13, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Law Center. I am deeply grateful to you for it.

As you may have seen in President DeGioia’s message yesterday, the University is taking several actions to address the serious financial concerns related to the evolving challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These decisions were not taken lightly, nor have they been easy ones to make, but, as President DeGioia wrote, they are necessary to build “the strongest possible framework for the Fall, and to continue to protect as many jobs as possible.” I am writing to you to provide some more detail about the steps we are taking at the Law Center and to discuss ways you can help.

The steps announced yesterday are not the University’s first in response to our economic challenges. We have already achieved more than $2 million dollars in salary reductions from me and more than 50 other senior leaders, imposed a hiring and salary freeze for this year, and limited all non-essential spending.

The University is now moving forward with additional actions:

  • There will be no merit increase for the next fiscal year for faculty, staff, and AAPs.

  • The University will not contribute to the 403(b) accounts of faculty, staff, and AAPs for the next fiscal year – although this decision will be revisited during the course of the year in light of the University’s financial situation.

  • The University has cancelled non-essential capital expenditures (including some of the scheduled construction in the Hotung building).

These are significant steps, and I know how painful they are for all.

President DeGioia also outlined two voluntary initiatives that people can participate in that will help the University financially at this difficult time: a voluntary furlough or a voluntary salary reduction.

Voluntary furlough program: Georgetown is implementing a voluntary furlough program, as outlined in the Voluntary Furlough Guidelines. This program is open to Georgetown Law faculty, staff, and AAPs, and can include positions for which there has been a reduction in the amount of available work. A furlough is a temporary unpaid leave, during which participating individuals remain employees of Georgetown. As President DeGioia notes, anyone who takes this option will be on furlough beginning on May 25, 2020 through July 26, 2020. Employees who enter the program will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. If eligible for unemployment benefits, an employee will also receive a weekly supplement of $600 from the federal government. During the furlough, the University will pay furloughed employees’ premiums for their current health care, dental, and vision benefits. For more information on the voluntary furlough program and how to apply to participate, please visit the University’s website. Supervisors have already received initial guidance from HR. Anyone who participates in the furlough program will be assigned a liaison from the Law Center who will provide assistance in navigating any issues you may have or furlough-related questions.

Voluntary temporary salary reduction program: All faculty, staff, and AAPs can participate in this program. This program will allow any employee to designate a reduction amount or percentage to his or her annual salary, while maintaining all benefits. Salary reductions can be implemented through the end of the next fiscal year (from June 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021); or individuals can elect to reduce their salary for some part of the year. An employee’s election to participate will be done in a confidential manner so that I and other deans, managers, and supervisors will not know who is choosing to participate. If you are interested in this program, please complete the appropriate form which is available on the University’s website (under voluntary salary reduction at the bottom of the page). If you have any questions, please contact David Mao, the Law Center’s Chief Operating Officer, at maod@georgetown.edu.

I recognize that people are in different positions financially, and in terms of their work obligations. Not everyone will be able to participate in these programs. But I hope everyone can contribute in other ways in the months ahead – whether it is a faculty member taking on additional teaching, a staff/AAP member cross-training to help out another department, contributing ideas on how to cut costs, or proposing some other initiative that will help the community. This is a critical time, and your help will make a great difference.

I know many of you will still have questions following yesterday’s announcement, so in addition to the University’s information sessions, we are setting up an online information session for law center staff and AAPs this Thursday, May 14 at 11:00 a.m. EDT to help address those questions and to provide details on the law school’s planning activities for the summer and the fall. Details on the session will be sent shortly. We encourage you to submit your questions in advance using this form. This will allow us to make every effort to cover all of your questions and concerns during the session.

Similarly, I am scheduling an online information session for faculty this Friday, May 15 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Details of how to join will be sent in advance of the meeting.

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected all members of the Georgetown Law community, creating personal difficulties and adding fear and uncertainty to our lives. We don’t know how long it will last, nor can we precisely predict what the short- and long-term financial effects will be. We do know that these uncertainties continue to impose a set of very real challenges on the University.

I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your willingness to adjust quickly to the demands we face. We’ve had to move rapidly to a new way of life and work – all while striving to deliver the critical parts of our academic mission of teaching and scholarship. Your resilience and commitment to the institution is invaluable.

We are being challenged at levels never before seen, but I remain confident in our ability to respond with a shared commitment to our mission and to one another. Please stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Bill