March 18, 2021

Dear UD Faculty and Staff,

It is hard to believe that it has already been a year since our world was turned upside down by a global pandemic that has impacted every aspect of the human experience — our health, our safety, our economy, and so much more. Here in our University of Delaware community, you have heard me say many times how proud I am of you — our dedicated faculty and staff — and our amazing students. Your hard work, collaboration, and creativity enabled us to stay the course. While observing health and safety protocols, we have achieved academic and operational progress. And repeatedly, you have all demonstrated great resilience.

After facing so many challenges together in this past year, I am delighted to be able to share some good news with you today.

A combination of positive developments is now enabling the University to reduce its operating deficit compared to earlier estimates. As a result, effective April 1, 2021, we are ending the 5% salary reduction that was applied University-wide for non-unionized employees in November 2020. In addition, a lump sum payment equal to the total salary reduction will be issued to those who have been impacted over the past five months. These adjustments will be reflected in your April 15 paycheck. Any additional days that were added to your vacation balance during this time will remain unchanged. Finally, vacation leave accrual limits will continue to be suspended through December 31, 2022, in order to prevent staff who have been unable to take vacation during this challenging time from losing this well-deserved benefit.

As you are all aware, during the past year we had to make some difficult decisions for the University in the face of financial headwinds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In November, we estimated an operating budget gap of $228 million, and possibly up to $288 million, if campus density in the spring mirrored the fall. To mitigate this financial impact, we were forced to take a series of difficult budgetary measures that resulted in projected savings of $135 million. In the face of multiple challenges — from salary and workforce reductions to the impact of remote working on your personal and professional lives — you have proven yourselves to be patient, loyal and dedicated members of the UD community. This has not gone unnoticed, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment.

I would also like to share that, through proactive partnership with the state of Delaware and our federal government representatives, UD was able to secure additional support from federal CARES Act funding and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to help offset the University’s unforeseen expenses imposed by the pandemic. In total, approximately $60 million in external funds has been appropriated to the University through the recent bills.

Now, with a significant increase in campus engagement and activity during the spring semester, combined with our successful mitigation measures and the federal funding, we are projecting an operating gap of approximately $65 million. While significant, I am confident that we will be able to overcome this financial hurdle and get the University back on track in the near future.

With an inspired reminder that we are all part of a community that moves forward together through times of both challenge and promise, I thank each of you for the sacrifices and contributions you have made to our University over this past year. The spring season is perennially about renewal, and as we anticipate its arrival, I hope this news will empower you all with a sense of relief and a spirit of optimism and confidence. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as we seize new opportunities ahead to realize progress for the University of Delaware.

In the meantime, please continue to attend to the health and safety of yourselves, as well as the wellbeing of your family, friends, and colleagues.


signature of President Dennis Assanis

Dennis Assanis

University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE   •