Employee Forum with President Wyatt

Published: April 21, 2020 | Read Time: 51 minutes

President Wyatt visits with SUU employees to discuss budgets for the next fiscal year and what the university is planning for summer and fall programming.

For all updates on how SUU is handling COVID-19, visit go.suu.edu/coronavirus.

11:01 I've had some questions come to me about budget. Why is it that we might have a budget challenge? And let me explain some of this in more detail so that you can get a full picture of where things are right now.

We operate under a fiscal year, that means our budget doesn't go with the calendar. Our budget starts on July 1 and goes to the last day of June. And so we're at the end of a budget year. The legislature has already asked us to cut $3 million out of this current year's budget. It's not necessarily going to be permanent. But this is the reason for that challenge, you all probably are aware that the federal government changed the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. That means that the tax revenue collections are all put back three months, which means that the state was expecting all of this tax money to come in before April 15. We're now not going to see the money until sometime prior to July 15. That puts their budget just a little bit short. And so they've told us that we will carry some of the funds that they otherwise were going to give us. And for us, that amount appears to be $3,035,000. Now, how are we going to come up with that $3 million that's coming out of all of our departments - carry forward funds, closing your balances? It's possible that we'll get that money back. They've told us that they're going to restore that, but there are a lot of unknowns. You don't just have to wait and see, but that's one of the reasons why we have asked you all to bear with us as we impose a soft spending freeze so that we don't spend out our balances and have enough money through the end of this year to make payroll and cover all of our expenses. And we'll be fine. We'll be fine. But thanks for helping us with the soft spending freeze. If this is the normal time of the year that you upgrade computers in your office or get new equipment to wear any of those kinds of things, we're just asking you to please not do it this year and to wait until everything is just a little bit better. That's this year's budget, next year's budget is a new story. And the challenge that we have in next year's budget comes from two separate sources. Our actual budget is about $200 million. Half of that is the education side and the other half is everything else. And when I say everything else, I mean the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Summer Games, Headstart, all the auxiliaries, housing, bookstore, all of these kinds of things, most of which you support yourself. But on our education side, which is about $100 million, approximately half of that comes from tuition. And approximately half of that comes from the state appropriations. And again, I can't overemphasize how fortunate we are to be in a state that gives us about half of our education budget from taxpayers funds. My friends in other states tell me that they're only getting 8 percent of their budget from the legislature. We're getting half. They might be getting 15 percent, so our legislature has treated us very well.
But half of our budget is coming from the legislature. The funds that we get into our budget come from one of two sources. One, sales tax revenue and two, income tax, and it's no surprise to you for me to say that sales tax revenue is dropping dramatically in Utah. And so is income tax, because a lot of people are out of work. We've got record numbers of people across the country who are unemployed. So those two things are having a significant impact on our budget.

The state has rainy day funds. It's very healthy. But the state's rainy day funds, because they don't know yet the governor and the legislature don't know how long these financial disruptions are going to be. They're going to hold on to a lot of the rainy day funds for weeks or months to find out. And today is when they're going to actually reduce our budget by that $3 million and restore it in next year's budget. And then in probably May or June, they're going to get back and they're going to cut our budget next year. We don't know exactly when, and we don't know by how much, but we've been told to expect that our budget next year is probably going to be cut by about $4.5 million. That could be restored in October or November, depending on how the economy goes and how long this pandemic has an impact on us. So May or June, we're going to get a budget cut, probably about $4.5 million. We also are concerned about tuition revenue collection. That's the other half of our budget. Half taxes, half tuition. Then you might be interested to know that the worries we have about tuition collection now, there's a whole variety of those things but we're optimistic. We think that things will be OK. But sitting today, we have to make some kind of provisions, parasols for a high impact or what I would call the reasonable worst case scenario. You might know that 7 percent of our students are international students, but they contribute 14 percent of our tuition collections. So it's financially very helpful for us to have international students. Our out-of-state students are 20 percent and they contribute 25 percent of our revenue. Again, a higher proportion of our revenue comes from them. And then 73 percent of our students are Utah residents and they contribute about 62 percent of our budget. So it's really helpful to us to have out of state and international students during this particular time with the pandemic. We're uncertain about whether international students will be able to come this fall. We already know that it's going to be more difficult for them in the summer. That's obvious for everybody because of the problems with international travel. But looking forward to the fall, we're concerned about what might happen. And so there's a chance that we'll have fewer international students just because they can't travel here and that'll be for the fall. But then hopefully by spring and by next year, we're back.

So these are temporary challenges for us. But they are in next year's budget. We can't overspend our budget because we don't have any money if we overspend. And there's a chance that some of the internationals or the out-of-state students may have difficulty traveling. And some of that will be impacted by the decisions made in Nevada and California. Some of these places where we get a lot of out of state students, if they stay on lockdown in California, then students from California might assume that it's not safe to come here, even though it's a lot safer in Cedar City than it is in places like L.A. or Las Vegas because there's less people. So we're projecting out reasonable worst case scenarios, and we're projecting that we're going to lose revenue from the legislature, that we might lose revenue from tuition. There are other sources of revenue. You'll all remember that the basketball tournament, the NCAA basketball tournament was canceled. We get revenue from that tournament even though we don't play in it. Because we're a Division I school. And the fact that the basketball term was canceled hurt our budget by $600,000. The Utah Shakespeare Festival, if for some reason we'd have to cancel the festival this summer, that will affect us in our budget as well. We again, I can't overemphasize this, we don't know and we won't know for months exactly what the impact of all this is going to be on our budget. But we're thinking that it might be as high as $9 or 10 million.

Now, fortunately for us, the federal government has already created some funds to help us. The higher education emergency relief funds and from that we're gonna get about $2.8 million that we can spend however we choose. Just in bolstering our budgets through this time, and then we're also going to get about $2.8 million, but has to be used in direct aid for students so that money can go to the students to help them with scholarships or whatever needs they have. We can spend more of that on students' direct aid, but we can't spend less than 2.8. So that's coming and we're grateful for that. And we know that if this gets really bad, the legislature will dip into the rainy day funds. So the good news is we don't expect that this is going to be as difficult as the recession that started in 2008. But we do have a lot of these challenges to work through. If we have a budget challenge of about $10 million, that's about 10 percent of our budget and 10 percent of our budget is a lot of money.

When our total university budget is about 80 percent personnel, it becomes rather tight. And this is another reason why we're asking everyone to bear with us right now as we impose this soft hiring freeze. And when I say soft hiring freeze, what that means is, is that we review every new position. And if it's a position we can't live without, then we'll still hire the person. But if it's a position that we can delay, then we're going to delay until we know more. If we find ourselves in a situation where we're going to have to do layoffs, we would rather not hire someone now than have to do a layoff because of that hire later. Again, we're gonna be OK. But we do have this very challenging year. And grateful for your patience with us.

Here's some good news. I think this is at least interesting, and for me it's very positive news. The longer we live and the more gray hair we have. I'm amassing a lot of gray hair and it feels to me like it's getting grayer by the day. But nevertheless, the older we live, the more these things become part of something that we understand because we've done it before. I was just looking up past recessions and I've actually lived through seven recessions. There's been seven recessions in my lifetime and a recession ended just two months before I was born. If I was a few months older, I could live through eight recessions. These are the natural cycles of life, no different than winter and spring and summer. We just have these cycles that we go through. And so we've done it before. We don't think this is going to be as severe as the recession of 2008/9/10. And we'll get through this. In 2008 we ended up cutting almost 20 percent of our budget here at Southern Utah University. And we don't expect that we'll have a cut in any circumstance that's that deep. So it won't be as bad as 2008.

25:11 Here we go. I've got some questions here on this screen. My understanding is the $2 trillion CARES Act allocates money for us to you. How will that affect our physical challenges? Thank you for these questions.

The CARES Act will come to us in an amount of about $5.6 million. 50 percent of that will help our budget. About $2.8 million will go to students for scholarship type things. So we're just shy of about $3 million in federal money to help us in our budget. And again, we'll probably get some help from the state legislature as soon as they get a better picture about how much this will affect our economy. Next question.

26:06 So how many extras do we expect to have to cut based on lower enrollment versus lost state revenue? Are the projected losses bad enough to lose staff and faculty jobs?

This is something I just wish I could say exactly an answer, but the answer is very simple. Even though it's not what you're hoping for, the simple answer is we don't know to the extent how this will affect enrollments. It's possible by fall that these students will be sick and tired of being in their parent’s basements. And it's possible that their parents will be sick and tired of their students being in their basements. And we may have a lot of students come back. It's also possible that they'll be nervous to come back. We think it's more likely that they're going to be nervous. So we have no idea how much tuition losses we might face, if any. And we don't actually know how much revenue we’ll receive from the state legislature or these other pieces. And until we know more about that, we can't project anything. We're just taking every precaution we can right now to help us out. As I've told you in our last virtual forum, our leading goal is to have no layoffs or minimize layoffs as much as possible. The odds are that we may face some layoffs, but we're going to do everything we can to avoid those. And we express our appreciation for your help in the soft hiring freeze and soft purchasing freeze and helping out a little bit where you can, so that we can conserve on our spending. I should add with this that none of the universities are going to do any kind of salary, cost of living adjustments this July. Depending on what happens with revenues, we may be able to get some of this money back from the state so that we can have some sort of salary increases in October or November or December. Again, we don't really know. But I think that you can all plan for now that in July there will not be any sort of salary increase, although there will be adjustments that we will face with medical insurance premiums. We're going to try to patch that up. There's a little bit of premium increase for everybody, but we're going to find a way internally to fund that so that nobody actually sees a salary cut. It's not all that much money for the school, but hopefully that'll make a difference in your pay during the coming year. So July there'll be no salary increases, but hopefully we'll be able to do that in October or November or December or January or whatever, whenever we possibly can.

29:40 The next question I'm seeing on my screen here - is funding for the three year degree and the new building in jeopardy? Is the new classroom building still moving forward?

29:58 The funding for the three year degree is not in jeopardy any more than our entire budget. So they're not pulling that money back, but they are cutting the entire university budget probably by $4.5 million, give or take. I don't know the actual number. We'll know in May or June. And then if the economy picks up, we'll get right back. But we don't know. So we're going to continue to go forward with our summer program and the three year degree program. And it's our hope that'll be a revenue positive for us or at least neutral. And we're also hoping that we can maintain faith with our students and the faculty who've agreed to teach in the summer or come and take classes in the summer. The classes will be all virtual. They'll be remote online. We had been told that the new building might be looked at again, along with other projects like that. So there's a chance, although I'm really hoping that it's a small chance, but there's a chance that the building will be delayed a year. Now, in the past, what the legislature has done during these kinds of times is that they have said, you know what? Construction stimulates the economy and so we're going to build one or two of these buildings and instead of funding it out of our budget, we may fund it out of bonds. Just so that we can get some things going, so even if the economy goes badly, we still may get the building because it will help the economy to do the construction. So, the only message I can tell you today is that we don't know what's going to happen with our new building. The odds are we'll still get it. If not, we think it'll be delayed maybe a year.

32:10 Next question, will the money allocated to faculty for teaching this summer be impacted?

The answer to that question is we will not change the pay for the faculty who are teaching summer courses in the same way that we're not planning to cut anyone's salaries. We're hoping that, that won't be an issue for anyone, but the classes will continue to go at the same pay rate. It's possible that we'll have two or three sections of one class and all two or three of those sections were very much under-enrolled and we may have to look at those and consolidate them into one class to help conserve funding with the purpose, of course, of our number one priority, which is to avoid layoffs during this period of time. So those are some of those things we may look at.

33:16 What do enrollments look like for summer and fall semester?

Well, the happy news is that they actually look fairly good, summer enrollments are up and fall enrollments depending on how you count, the numbers actually look pretty good. So if all of this holds, then we're going to be in better shape than we might otherwise be. But, and this is one of our concerns is that if the pandemic continues through fall or comes back in the fall or if students are nervous to come to school, what we're seeing is the students are applying, they're being admitted, some of them are giving their deposits, but they're slow in making their rental deposits. And that's because they're really waiting to see. So we won't know until later. And we won't know what's going to happen if the economy gets worse. You may have heard me say that in 2008 when we went into that recession that went over from 8, 9, 10 and on. But, actually our enrollments over that recessionary period dipped just a teeny bit, statistically insignificant. But the actual total numbers dropped a little bit. If you're Salt Lake Community College and a recession hits, people stay home and they go back to school. And that helps a school like Salt Lake Community College. That probably helps Utah Valley University. It probably helps Weber. It might not help Southern Utah University. It might not help the Logan campus of Utah State University. It might not help Snow College. So, just a lot of things up in the air, and I'm just so appreciative of your patience with us, as soon as we learn things will let you know and hopefully nothing will be quite as bad as our greatest fears.

35:01 How do we expect a massive return of LDS missionaries to affect the fall enrollment?

That's a very interesting question because a lot of these missionaries are coming home. A lot of our students have served missions or planned to serve missions. We have various programs to try to attract them to our school in the same way that we're trying to attract someone who is just coming off of military service or any other thing like that. So hopefully we'll be successful with that. But as I remind everybody, there's a very large university in this state called BYU and then there's BYU-Idaho, So the LDS Business College in Salt Lake has changed its name to, I think, Ensign College. They have the addresses and phone numbers of every one of these students coming home from their missions and they're not sharing it with us. They know exactly who they all are and for us, it's a little bit more difficult to target. But, we are doing our very best to have special programs try to draw them here.

37:08 Are you considering freezing all new building funds, upgrades to facilities, etc.?
We stepped up our pace in the move toward online, which doesn't require new buildings. So is this part of the planning for the future?

Actually, no. We are not discontinuing our plans to remodel, refurbish, and grow new buildings on campus. We believe that our face to face university experience will continue to grow. We also believe that our online students will grow as well, so we remain committed to face to face. We look forward to this new building being constructed. We look forward to other buildings in the future. Some of the remodels that we would normally do during the summer this year, we're not going to be able to do because of our budget.

Some of the money we get for remodeling or upgrading buildings, you might be interested to know that a lot of that money comes to us from the state for the purpose of remodeling and that's the only thing we can use the funds for. The buildings belong to the state and they give us money to keep those buildings in good shape. So some of that work we'll be doing regardless, but we've toned down some of it. But long term, we think that our face to face enrollments will continue to grow. But if you pause and think about this for a minute, if half of our budget is from the legislature and half of our budget is from tuition, when we hit experiences like this, if we had a much more robust online education program then instead of being kind of with half of our budget being depended upon face to face education, we would have this whole extra component that is tuition from online. That would help us through these kinds of difficult challenges. So it just broadens our portfolio, makes us a more stable school. We have a lot of education reasons and social justice, upward mobility reasons to expand online. But there are also, I have to point out, there are also some financial stability reasons for us. You can imagine all the online universities in the country are doing extremely well. The federal stimulus money that is being used to help all the universities in America is not coming to the online only schools because they don't need anything. The expectations are that they're going to be doing exceptionally well this year and with some of the shifts of people's thinking, they may be doing better long term.

40:22 Let's see, what are the projections for online enrollment?
So I think that's a question that I've mostly answered. Our hope is, that face to face enrollments continue to grow and that our online enrollments grow faster. Not to ever become an online school, of course, but to have a bit more of a balance. The revenue from both of those sectors and to reach out to the 35 million Americans who have some college degree, some college credits, but no degree and those that can't move here to start school.

41:03 That's a very nice question. “Hey president, congratulations on the best university administrator.”

So you all saw that for the third year in a row Best of State awarded SUU the best educational institution in Utah. That's not just higher education institutions. It's all the private and publics and everything else. So, that's kudos to everybody here. This is a great place, and I didn't realize that I was nominated to be the best education administrator, but as I remind people, this is a team sport. And all of our accomplishments come as a result of all of us working together as a team. It's fun. This is a great school to visit. I'm just so proud to be part of Southern Utah University and grateful for all your support and help.

41:56 Next question, what happens to new faculty who have already been interviewed and been offered a contract?

This is a question that's the same for staff. Each one of these is looked at separately. So if a person has been interviewed and offered a job, the paperwork has been completed. Because, as you know, nobody can offer a job for a staff member or a faculty member, except for the president. So if there is a search process going on and someone says, we want to offer you the job, that's not really an offer until it's gone through all of the processes in the dock, the paperworks all been signed. So if somebody is actually been offered a job and they're on their way here, we anticipate that that job is going to stay and we need them. But if it's not to the end of the row yet, then a lot of these we're putting on hold. And if you have questions about any of them, then just send them up to us and we can answer those questions. The Cabinet is meeting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We used to meet probably three times a month, but now we're meeting every other day and we're going through the names of all of the staff and faculty members - we're going through every open position and making a decision about whether that position can be filled now or whether we should just put it on hold for a few months or six months or a year. So that's where we are. Any questions? Please send it on up.

If it's a question about faculty, send it on up through your deans and to the provost. It's a question about staff, send it on up through your department chairs and whichever vice president or cabinet member is working with you. And we can get answers very, very quickly.

44:19 Would it be possible for faculty/staff to offer voluntarily to take a salary reduction temporarily, maybe for the next three months, five, 10 or 15 percent to help offset financial losses? And the question adds, what can we do to help?

That is a very thoughtful and generous offer. This is one of those places where everybody cares a lot about each other. I'm happy that some of you were thinking about what we can do to sacrifice to help keep jobs for everybody else. Just put that thought in the back of your head and wait for a little while and then let's see what the actual budget challenges are going to be and then we'll know how to react. And we may come out and ask if there are any who would like to volunteer for a temporary reduction. We know that a lot of you can't do it or that it would be very, very painful. But nevertheless, thanks for the offer and we'll be talking about possibilities down the road. We don't believe - I should say I don't believe - in across-the-board cuts. So if the university had to take a 3 percent budget cut, we would never do that by saying every department gets a 3 percent budget cut. We will be more careful and strategic about those things. And maybe that's helpful for you to know as well.

45:58 The next question I'm reading, can the $3 million cut for this year's budget that is being covered in large part by the spending freeze that will be restored in next year's budget, be used to offset the cost of $4.5 million in next year's budget?

The answer is maybe. So just reminding that this current year budget, we may lose $3 million. Well, we are today losing $3 million and we're expecting that to be restored on July 1 in next year's budget. And at the same time, having our budget cut by some amount that might be $4.5 million, it might be more. It might be less. We don't know. We're a little nervous about losing the $3 million, but it may not come back. But it might. And we're being told that it will. So can the $4.5 million be mitigated, somewhat cut, mitigated somewhat by the $3 million? Yes, that's possible. And we'll know better in the next several months.

47:22 Are employees in their six month probation in danger of losing their jobs?

The answer to that is I just want everybody to know that our goal is to preserve every job we can. That is one of our leading goals through this entire process. The board would be more strategic than that. We'll try to look at ways for the institution to remain as strong as possible. So the message I would give you today is that while we think there's a chance that there might be some layoffs, all of you that are in your first six month probation time, I don't think you should feel like you were a particular target. So let's just try to assume and plan that there'll be no layoffs because we're going to all work hard on this hiring freeze and spending freeze and we're going to all work hard on trying to get students back in the fall as best as we can. And I'm still very hopeful that we can do it without any layoffs. In 2008 during that recession. I ended up being involved in laying off a lot of employees when I was working at Snow College, and I really don't want to ever have to do that again. So we are bound and determined to do our very best to avoid any layoffs. So be patient with us. Thank you so much.

48:57 Let's see. Next question, will faculty that received rank advancements received the expected salary increase? So while we won't have any salary. General salary increases or cost of living increases, we feel like the rank and tenure increases are part of our contract with faculty and that they should all expect that they will get those rank increases this year. So that should be secure. We're planning on giving that, as is, I think, every other university in Utah.

49:36 Question. Our department has some talent based scholarships. We were about to send out award letters, should we hold off because those funds were frozen?

If you have any questions about anything like this, the answer is yes. Hold. Get the information up to us as fast as possible so that we can look at it and then get right back to it. If you've got award letters that need to go out in two days, we can easily address that question quickly in our meeting every other day. And again, get this up to whoever the cabinet member is that oversees your particular operations. And so this would need to be the Provost. Or in scholarships, perhaps Stuart Jones or if you don't know who to send it to, just send it to me or Marvin Dodge and we'll address it and get back to you fast.

50:46 Will the new Provost still be here in May?

Yes. Our new Provost starts two weeks from today. So I think if the calendar in my head is right. John Anderson starts on May 1st.

50:54 When will a final decision be made for on-campus or remote instruction for fall? Yeah, that's a great question and thanks for asking that question.

I don't know the answer. We are all planning today that fall will be face to face. When I say we're all planning, that means all the universities and colleges in Utah are planning on this.
But at the same time, we're all working through what kinds of things we can do to make sure that we're a little extra safe. This fall, the normal - mask, sanitation, social distancing and just whatever it is that we might do. Maybe hybrids of face to face and remote. These things are all preliminary. If you have ideas, let us know. But you know, like some of the ideas that have been suggested include - well, we could have classes where students are six feet apart and they rotate. So half the class comes into the classroom on Monday. The other half comes in on Tuesday. The rest of them are watching it from their dorms. I don't know. We'll see. But if you have ideas, we're certainly open in looking for your suggestions. Right now, there's a decision that fall will be face to face if that decision is changed. It's probably not going to happen until July. But again and again, I hate saying so much ambiguity. But that is the world we're in. It's possible that this pandemic could come back in October stronger than we expect. And then we would have to shift to remote. But nobody's thinking there's a high probability, but just know that this is a very interesting time. Super interesting time. A lot about it is discouraging or depressing, but this is really interesting. And I was speaking with Laura Davis, in fact, one of our history faculty members yesterday. And she said that she changed her course a little bit. And she’s asked her students to write a paper comparing the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 to this one today, kind of show through primary sources what our students are experiencing now versus what students have experienced back then. This is an interesting opportunity for us to help each other and to help our students and to be part of history that's living. This is something that will be in textbooks and will be talked about for a very, very long time. So although there are reasons for me to sometimes be discouraged or frustrated, I'm choosing to look at this in the most interesting way I can. And realize that we're seeing history around us.

54:24 Do we think that there will be sports or concert events in the fall? Great question.

As you know, where you are, you may be aware. We're hoping to have a Shakespeare season. With adjustments, a shorter season and other precautions are being used. So we're hoping that we can do that. We're hoping partly because the Health Department has suggested that it's more likely than not that we'll be able to. We're hoping to have the Utah Summer Games. And we're hoping to have a fall athletic season. But we don't know. It's possible that the fall athletic season, including football, would be canceled. It's possible that it will just be moved to spring despite being the first time. I don't know how long that we would end up having a spring football season, but these are all questions, some of which we don't have control over. But I'm glad for the question and just know all these things - there's a lot of levers to be pulled. And the decision about fall sports is probably going to be made by the NCAA completely outside of our control.

56:01 Can you please address student concerns over the fact that summer teaching is happening remotely? And yet the USF festival has announced that it is open July 9. Yeah, that's a great question.

How is it that we might be able to have the festival? But not student teaching when they're both kind of similar things. There are a lot of people who believe that the first half of summer we will still be on lockdown or social distance, won't be able to meet in groups or have classes, and that that would apply in May and in June and that it's possible that in the latter part of July and August that we'll be able to open up. The decision has been made by all of the colleges and universities in Utah that rather than have this extremely disruptive kind of a summer where faculty, staff and students don't know what they're doing all summer long, to just have one answer and to make it clear that it's summer is remote or online. Knowing that we can't start face to face, even though we might be able to end face to face - what do we tell students? Don't get an apartment in May and June? But you might need to get an apartment at the end of July and August anyway? It's just really confusing for everybody. So the decision has been made at SUU along with every other college and university to make our entire summer remote or online just to make things simple and clear and predictable. The question about the festival where the Utah Shakespeare Festival does not start plays until the middle of July is we're hoping that by that time we're able to have people in groups. The governor's timeline based on advice from public health folks suggests that we'll probably be able to do that. But know that if come the middle of June or the end of June or the first of July, and we realize that it's not safe to do the Utah Shakespeare Festival, that we’ll cancel the season and refund all the tickets to those that have bought tickets. So we're very hopeful. It might be canceled, but we don't want to disrupt classes in the same way.

59:00 OK, with a lot of summer camps and problems with summer camps, I hope that if the answers aren't quite clear enough, please chip in another question so that I can clarify. With a lot of summer camps and programs are the plans to postpone or cancel these events the entire summer? They may potentially be canceled or postponed. And the decision about each of the pieces is going to be made at the right time for each of those kinds of events. So we think that we may know about the fall athletic season, the first of May or sometime in May, we might know. And as soon as we learn about that, that will help us make the decision about athletic camps on campus. It helps us make the decision about Utah Summer Games and everything else. So these are rolling decisions. There would be nothing better than for us to be able to make one decision and then say, OK, we're done till next year. But we're making decision in some cases every day. Fortunately, we've gotten through the bulk of them.

1:00:00 Has there been any planning for an immediate marketing plan to get students excited about the benefits of taking courses online next fall?

The answer is absolutely yes. We are moving forward expecting face to face classes in the fall with all diligence to get all of our students back because we need them here and frankly, they need us. So we want to keep them all on track to graduate in one year. So, yes, very significant plans to help move that along.

1:01:00 Do you think the push for more online classes may have helped prepare us for the shift to remote instruction? And do you think this will help us with enrollment going forward?

The answer is absolutely yes. Two or three years ago, we had four people in our online teaching office. And today we have, I think, 14. We are so much better prepared for this summer than we would have been had we not moved that direction. It's so much nicer to be able to shift from face to face into a full, high quality online program than it is to try to figure out how to do it remotely, via Zoom. So, yes, absolutely, it's helped us. And absolutely as we go forward, we see increasing online being available to help us with budgets, reach out to students who couldn't move here and also help us in times like this when we have these unexpected things happen. With online, a large number of my students have reported hating online. Do you really see SUU pushing more into online when so many students hate it? So let me be really clear. Again, thank you for that question. And I might add, a lot of these questions we would have never received if we were having a face to face forum in the same way that students are sometimes uncomfortable asking difficult questions face to face as well. So I want to be really, really clear. We intend to continue our face to face experience and we intend to grow it. We intend to draw 18 year olds, 19 year olds, 20 year olds. We intend to draw any student who is privileged enough to move to Cedar City and enroll in classes and be here in our classrooms. We intend to grow those programs. We intend to recruit those students. That is our priority. In addition to that, we intend to reach out to the mid-career students. We intend to reach out to students who cannot move to Cedar City. We intend to find those mothers, single mothers with three children who were waiting tables in Kanab or wherever they might be and offer them the opportunity for the same social upward mobility that we're offering for 18 and 19 year olds. This is a significant part of our mission - to help people expand their lives, be able to get employment, promote wellness for all of them, to reduce intergenerational poverty. And we are limited in the ability to do that if the only students we teach are those privileged few who have enough money to move here. And so if some of your students hate online, my message to them is we hope that except for this pandemic disruption, that they will never have to take another online class as long as they live. But for those students that like online or that because of their life situations only having online is an option, we want to make sure that we offer an SUU education to them as well. So there you go. I hope that's clear. And I've said this many times and I'm happy to reiterate it. If you as a faculty member don't want to teach online, please know that I will never require of you. We intend to continue to grow face to face, and we need you to teach face to face. And we can hire new people to teach online. And that's not bad. Actually, that's pretty good. So if you're willing to teach online or you think you might want to try it out, then that's awesome. We need you, but nobody's going to force you to do it. Just like nobody is going to force a sprinter to run a marathon. We all are conditioned to do different things. We all have different goals in life. And we want to make this the most wonderful professional experience for you possible.

1:05:39 All right. What can we do to help boost enrollments? The next question I'm seeing on my screen.

Please just do your very best with your job, whatever that job is. If you're working on the grounds crew, the better our grounds look, the more attractive this is for students to come and study here. And if you're teaching, make the experience as well as just the best experience you can possibly make it, knowing that if you're teaching remotely, it's not going to be the same, but just the best you can. And if you have friends or family or, you know, people encourage them to come study here because we need them. And we can give them a better education than what they’re getting in a lot of other places. This isn't just about us. It's about them because we're better, students have better experience here than in a lot of other other schools anyway. So just do everything that you can. I happen to have a couple son-in-laws who are well, one's a son-in-law and one will be a son-in-law soon who, because of some unfortunate fate, have found themselves attending other universities in Utah.

I've tried to tell them that their future is at stake unless they drop out immediately and come to SUU. But for some reason they're resisting. But the reason why I bring this up is because these kids are all talking with each other. They are not holding back. Students going to the U or Utah Valley University or Utah State and SUU and Dixie. They all have friends from high school. They all have friends from their neighborhood. They're all home, most of them in their parents' basement talking to their friends who are doing the same thing while attending other schools. And they're talking about their experiences. And they're learning that the experiences had by the students at SUU are better than experiences at other universities right now. So just continue doing your very best. Our best way to recruit is word of mouth from students telling other students about the amazing faculty and staff that are taking care of here. So that's my answer to anything that you can do.

1:08:00 Will Condoleezza Rice, be our commencement speaker on August 8th?

She will not, but we think that she'll be our commencement speaker next year in the spring, but she will not be our commencement speaker on August 8. Still putting together the plans for August 8.

1:08:00 Even with relaxed social distancing standards, won't it be hard to hold a full commencement in August with the way we usually pack the America First Events Center?

We have to try to make decisions knowing that we remake all of our decisions depending on the circumstances. What we have announced is that we are tentatively planning on commencement on August 8. And as long as our local public health authorities and the state says it's OK, we will hold commencement on August 8 in the America First Events Center. And if they tell us that we can't do it, then we're going to adjust our plans and do it on a different occasion or some different means. So we're hoping that we can do it on August 8. And making those plans for August 8.

1:09:51 For two years, we have not raised tuition. If we raised tuition, would that not raise revenue for the university, especially in a time like this?

Maybe. It might and it might not. It just all depends. And there's a lot of elements that play into this. We don't know for sure if it would raise more revenue or not. A year or two ago, two years ago, the Board of Regents established a general principle for tuition rates. And they said that each of the schools should have a certain kind of rate. So the two research universities should charge no more than 15 percent of the median household income and that tuition the regional universities charge no more than 10 percent of the median household income and that the community colleges should charge no more than 7 percent of median household income. Applying those standards to the eight colleges and universities in Utah, SUU is the only one that exceeds that standard that was higher than the 10 percent rate. So we have been working to try to get our rate to be more consistent with that requirement. Now the Regents and the legislature are considering what these tuition standards ought to be. And so we may see some adjustments to that. But for the foreseeable future, our goal is to bring our rate in line with our peers. And it's hard to know if we have more students come or less depending on our cost. We do know that Dixie is advertising to the whole world that they're the least expensive. When I came here, our tuition rate was almost the same as Utah State University’s. And if our rate is the same as USU, we think that we'll lose a lot of students because of the perception of quality between the two schools by the general public, which holds a watch, which the general public sees. Utah State is being perceived as having a higher quality diploma. So there's a lot of things we're trying to balance. And we're actually hoping that by getting our tuition more appropriately spaced among our peers in Utah, that that's going to be a boost for us in a lot of ways.

1:23:25 Question Could you please thank all of the faculty and staff who've contributed to this student T-Bird Strong fund to support emergency expenses for our students.

So thank you very much. This message also indicates this is from Janet Borg, by the way. Thank you, Janet. We have 97 donors so far who have raised about $12,000. I think that this campaign that you may have seen already sent out to the community and to all of us - the goal is to just try to have an opportunity. We've had so many people say, how can I help? And this is one way to just help with small scholarship assistance for students that are struggling because of a lost job or something else.

1:13:38 Question - Will students be able to use their scholarships in the fall if we are still online?

Students will be able to use their scholarships this fall online regardless of whether we are online or face to face. We made a decision that any scholarships awarded to students that they could use those scholarships online if they feel, for whatever reason, unsafe leaving their homes in coming to SUU to study. That's only for fall. If we're all online, they'll be able to use your scholarships, if we're all face to face, but they don't want to come for some reason they can still use it. So the answer is yes.

1:14:29 Considering our dedicated employees who have been approved for early retirement this year, will those agreements still be honored? Will their departments be allowed to hire their replacement?

Those who have been approved for early retirements - nothing is being rescinded on any of that. The second part of that question, will their departments be allowed to hire their replacements? And the answer is maybe - the same answer for all hires under our soft hiring freeze. Will they be able to be replaced? Of course, the question, though, really is, is when? That's really the biggest part of the question.

1:15:04 Next question - was summer and fall enrollments looking good thus far? What plans are in place to fund and keep vital student support services run like the tutoring centers, academic advising, writing centered testing centers and etc?

We obviously need to have full top quality service when students come back. That's why actually we would not consider an across the board budget cut. Because we need to make sure that we prioritize those things that are the most needed. And we'll talk more about that, but that's our priority, is to make sure that we deliver a high quality educational experience. And see the smallest number, including 0, if possible, layoffs as a result of this pandemic.

1:16:00 OK. Next question. Not a question. So I'm reading the screen, not a question, but “Your leadership and that of your cabinet members has been phenomenal during this crisis. Just wanted to thank you for your column, reassurance and candor, transparency during this unique challenge.”

Thanks for the comments. We're doing our very best. These are difficult times for everybody. I I sometimes sit and think, I wish I didn't have all these decisions to make. Some of these decisions are hard, but actually I think it's just as hard or maybe even harder to not be able to make those decisions to be teaching your classes or working in your offices and doing your very best and not really be able to be in the room just discussing and debating all these things. So I don't think my job's as hard as many of your jobs are and just so grateful that you're patient with us. We're doing everything we can to do it as well as possible and appreciate, appreciate what you're doing to help us through this.

We've got just a few more minutes left before we have to stop this. But if you have other questions, please feel free to send them and we'll get back to you.

1:17:20 If you were to slowly allow us to return to campus through summer and fall, but there are employees, students who are nervous due to having compromised immune systems, how would the university and departments handle that process?

So that's a question that we don't have an answer for yet. But I want to remind you that we have made a decision - is that we're asking everyone to work from home. But if for some reason it's not possible for you to work from home - that might be because you're on the facilities crew and you can't work from home, it might be because you've got so many distractions at home that it's impossible for you to work - we want to accommodate you to come into your office and work. You could come in, close the door, social distance yourself and work in your own space. I come into my office almost every day. And I work here, it just feels to me that I need to be on campus during this difficult time, even though I have a good space at home where I can work, I'm still here most of the time. So this is kind of partly a personal decision for you to do what works best for you and as we start gradually opening up the campus, we'll be more patient with those who have compromised immune systems or are over the age of 60 or whatever the circumstances might be. We'll try to be more patient as we do our reopening gradually.

1:19:00 Question - Do you think we are hurting our students by offering the pass fail option for their grades? As someone who has hired many individuals, this type of grade does not indicate to me an individual's knowledge of the subject that they studied and may potentially hinder their abilities to compete in the real world.

This is a decision that is a purely academic question. So I wasn't involved in making this call. This is a decision that was made by faculty. Rightly so, but to do the direct answer to the question, is this going to hurt our students? Remember, the students have a choice. The students can choose to pass, fail or take a letter grade. So it's up to them. But then the next part of this is. In one year, two years, five years, 10 years, 20 years, when any employer, when any employer or graduate school is looking at these transcripts. No one will need to remind them about the spring of 2020 and what happened. You can get a pass fail grade, I think, there's probably someone out there I'm not aware of any, but I think you're going to have a pass fail option at every university in America or at least virtually everyone - from the Ivy Leagues to the big research universities to our regional colleges and universities, to the expensive liberal arts schools. Everybody is giving this option to students. So I actually don't think it's going to hurt the students. But if a student is doing well, then that student should choose to get the letter grade and not get the pass.

1:20:09 Let's see - if someone has already been granted sabbatical, will that be affected by the pending budget issues?

We have not pulled back on any of the sabbaticals. Those were approved in January and we know that people have made life adjustments for that. So we're not pointing the sabbaticals back.

1:21:34 You addressed having support from the Utah legislature, but how has SUU been affected or maybe affected by giving major gifts due to the COVID-19?

We saw during the 2008 recession a substantial drop in philanthropy. So there was a drop. I wish I could remember the percentage, but it was like 13% - don't hold me to that number. But there was a drop across the country and gifts and it was because people weren't in a position to give and depending on how much this economy affects individuals’ budgets, we will definitely see some impact on that. So we may see an impact in giving legislative appropriations, tuition, all those kinds of things.

1:22:00 Are there different plans for orientation summer ACES where students likely won't be able to do individual campus visits?

Yes. Our orientations are “no more groups”. They're all being done virtually. And they will continue to be in those formats until we have a go ahead to change.

1:22:53 Is there a transparency plan in place to make the budget cuts available to faculty and staff so we can all see where and how the cuts were made?

Absolutely. Everything will be transparent. Also, can we distinguish between planned cuts and cuts that have been made? That's a fair question if I understand the question right. It is what cuts will be made as a result of this pandemic versus what cuts are in the normal course of university operations? There's always adjustments being made in any organization. And will we be able to distinguish between the reason for cuts? Hopefully we'll be able to do that. Sometimes it gets blurry. But we'll do our very best. But yes, absolutely, there'll be complete transparency from the top down.

1:23:56 If it comes to layoffs, some CEOs are not taking salaries. Others, along with their CEOs or CFO, etc, are taking partial cuts. Other companies are cutting everyone at 10 percent across the board. Has this been discussed? Is there a plan to protect jobs? And can you share it with us?

Thank you for that question. I wasn't intending to discuss any of that yet, but I can tell you that because you're asking the question and I don't want to dodge it. My wife and I have already discussed this, and if we end up doing significant layoffs, I'm going to go without any salary for at least a year. And I think that that will help save several jobs. So this is something that we decided a month ago, and if we get into any kind of significant layoffs, that I will be the first layoff, so to speak, I'll still work. But that's the answer to that question. There may be others who do similar things. I don't want my decision to make anybody feel uncomfortable or that they should do the same thing because we're all in a different situation. It just happens that our situation is such that we can do it. I can live off savings for the year without too much of a difficulty.

1:25:33 Next question. Are you aware of any significant purchases that may be needed to deliver virtual classes during this purchase freeze?

So there might be something. I can't think of anything in my head right now, but we want to make sure that we continue to invest in those things that bring back more revenue than the investment costs. It would certainly be foolish to cut a thousand dollar expenditure that would lead us to a $5k revenue gain. Right. So those things are all very careful.

Well, I've just got a flash up that we close down in one minute. May I again tell you my appreciation for all the work you're doing. I know this is difficult, very disruptive. It's affecting everyone in a different way and some of you probably feel like you're not doing as well as you should based on the circumstances and some of you feel guilty about that. Let me just reassure you, all we expect is your best. And we know that one person working from home cannot be as productive as another. So just give it your very best that you can and we're so grateful for that. This is an awesome school and this is a very great time to be here. And this disruption in the financial challenges are going to go away. As I said, I've lived through seven recessions and this financial challenge will go away just like the last seven did - we come out of every one of these stronger. Sometimes it takes longer than other times, but we'll be ok. Know that we care very much for you and we're so grateful. Keep safe. Take care of yourselves and your families and let us know what we need to help support you in your own jobs and with your family and personal concerns. We want to do our very best. Thank you so much. Have a nice rest of your week. It's finals next week. So we're almost done with this semester. The weirdest end ever and summer school is going to start and it'll be a way to start over. But we'll tell our grandkids about it. We're already telling your grandkids about it.

Our grandkids are going to tell their grandkids about it. Some of us, anyway, thank you again.

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