COVID-19 – Initial Financial Implications

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Dear Colleagues of the Yale Community,

As a unified Yale, we together continue to adjust to the extraordinary challenges posed by COVID-19.  To this point, President Salovey, the vice presidents, and the deans have focused the University’s efforts on protecting the health and safety of this community, and on promoting the same for our city, state, country, and world—while keeping Yale’s teaching and learning, and critical research, functional.

Toward those ends, the University has moved its courses online, transitioned many of its personnel to working from home, supported critical staff whose work must be done on campus, and buttressed our health care partners across Connecticut who are treating those directly affected by COVID-19.  And while all of this radical change has rolled across our campus, faculty and staff in our Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health have worked fearlessly at the front lines of this pandemic, heroes to us all.  The Yale community has responded to the global challenge of COVID-19 in a way that reflects its strength, resiliency, and commitment to service.  

While the pandemic is first and foremost a health care crisis, it is also having significant effects on the university’s finances.  Today, we write with an outline of the initial and longer-term financial implications of COVID-19.  

Most immediately, there have been substantial incremental costs and lost revenues associated with moving away from campus, making a rapid shift to online learning and operations, eliminating summer programming, focusing our health care and safety operations on COVID-19, transforming the Lanman Center into a field hospital, and making hundreds of beds in our residential colleges available to medical personnel and local first responders.  

Longer term, the uncertain outlook on the economy combined with the volatility across financial markets will result in significant revenue declines, most notably from the endowment and possibly from philanthropy.  While the full financial costs to the university of COVID-19 are at present impossible to quantify, the university must begin to adjust to new realities resulting from the pandemic and the global economic downturn.  Taking clear-eyed action is essential to maintaining our commitment to students, faculty, and employees, and to ensuring that Yale has the resources to sustain our mission as a global research university. 

Therefore, we announce the following actions: 

  • Pause Hiring University-wide for Fiscal Year 2021: This action covers all open faculty and staff positions and is now extended to the end of the next fiscal year, June 30, 2021, except for rare exceptions that must be approved by the provost, senior vice president for operations, or the dean of Yale School of Medicine.  Our objective is to focus support on our existing faculty, students, and staff.  Deans will review with the provost the status of faculty searches and jointly determine which, if any, can proceed, and which should be delayed until the financial situation has improved. 
  • Freeze Salaries for Fiscal Year 2021: Faculty will not receive a salary increase and Managerial & Professional staff will not receive a merit increase in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.  This includes a salary freeze for officers, deans, directors, and the president and provost.  We are taking this action to help preserve the jobs of our current faculty and staff during this difficult time.  Faculty and staff will continue to receive increases that accompany a promotion, and unionized staff will receive increases in accordance with collective bargaining agreements.  Separate guidance will be provided about postdoctoral salaries.  
  • Reduce Capital Spending: We have already paused many capital projects on campus for public health reasons.  Due to the financial situation, we are reviewing every capital project and reevaluating whether it can proceed.  Most capital projects will either be paused or delayed until further notice. 
  • Avoid Non-essential Expenditures Including Travel: We ask all faculty and staff to forgo all non-essential expenditures and reconsider or avoid significant new financial commitments.  As previously announced, all university-sponsored international travel is prohibited through August 15, and domestic travel should be carefully reviewed and not undertaken unless it is essential.
  • Prioritize Use of Restricted Funds:  Schools and departments must ensure that restricted current use gifts and endowment funds are used first, consistent with gift terms, before and in place of unrestricted funds, to provide maximum flexibility in responding to the pandemic and the financial situation.

We are working with officers, deans, directors, and financial staff to build the savings from these actions into the budgets for fiscal year 2021. 

We trust that the Yale community understands that these actions announced today are an essential first step on the path to addressing our longer-term financial challenges, and that additional actions are likely going forward.  We will continue to evaluate the impact of the larger economy on Yale’s long-term financial situation, work collaboratively with leadership across the university and with our bargaining units, and keep you informed in the coming months. 

We are profoundly grateful for all that you are doing to help our community through these challenging days.  


Scott Strobel
Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry 

Jack Callahan, Jr.
Senior Vice President for Operations