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COVID-19: Position Control and Fiscal Responsibility Guidelines

April 9, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Earlier today, Chancellor Nathan Brostrom wrote about the need for fiscal prudence as UC Merced plans to grow and thrive. In consultation with the UC Office of the President, we are evaluating various models to plan for potential financial impacts and help guide future decision making as we navigate the unknown future. In this process, we are implementing several proactive actions to protect jobs and continue the university’s mission.

Beginning today, April 9, 2020, every unit should undertake all possible cost-saving measures to sustain our campus priorities, including:

Carefully monitor expenses in final months of this fiscal year and delay any expenditures greater than $5,000 until our budget picture becomes clearer. Major expenditures should be approved by your manager/supervisor or department/division head. (Note: Contract and grant related purchases where reimbursement is assured should continue to move forward.)

Review your budget allocation and identify opportunities for immediate and long-term savings.

Refrain from submitting new requests to Human Resources for reclassifications, equity adjustments, stipends, contract and limited-term positions unless they are critical to the operation of the campus or to protecting the safety and well-being of the campus community, or will protect against significant compliance/legal risk.

Hiring and onboarding continues, but we are tightening our longtime position control process. Our Position Delegates Council will scrutinize each new position, under the guidance of divisional and school leadership; their criteria will now include a much sharper focus on those positions critical to accomplishing the university’s goals.

All new staff and academic recruitment will be paused except for:

Positions critical to the health and safety of the campus community and campus assets, such as public safety, health center and custodial staff.

Positions required to support the quality of remote instruction, student success during the crisis, and changes in research modalities that can be integrated into best practices after the crisis passes.

Positions nearing conclusion in their searches or for which offers have been extended, and remote work is possible.

Positions for which deferral would result in greater fiscal costs to the unit and campus, or reductions to or forgoing of revenue streams, or pose significant compliance/legal risk.

In addition, requests for new compensation review based on classification, reclassification and stipends should be paused. Requests for new and back-fill permanent positions, new contract positions and new limited-term positions will require approval from a dean or division leader and be reviewed against the above criteria. Finally, the STAR awards program will be temporarily suspended and compensation decisions traditionally associated with the performance appraisal process will be temporarily delayed until further clarity about the University’s financial situation is known.

Detailed instructions regarding the position management process, including how to submit new recruitments, will be communicated to managers and supervisors as soon as we evaluate current recruitments. This will be re-evaluated every three months.

Further, campus leadership is exploring how some staff can be redeployed across campus to aid in areas where there is an increased workload resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. This will allow employees who might otherwise not be able to work remotely to work on critical projects and engage with others.

Despite these challenges, I am sure we all share the optimism of President Napolitano: “While there may be turbulent financial waters ahead for the university, I know that through thoughtful and careful planning we will get through them together.”

Michael Riley, CPA

Interim Chief Financial Officer