Caring for Our Faculty and Staff
March 30, 2020
Without exception, whenever I ask individual members of our faculty and staff why they work at Pepperdine, they respond with one of two things, and sometimes both. They say "because the people here are like none other" and "because of our authentic faith in Christ." As I watch the way you are responding to this crisis, I am deeply moved by your sacrifice and commitment to excellence in the classroom and to caring for our students. You are truly our most cherished asset, and I thank God everyday for you and for the privilege I have to lead alongside you.
In the last several weeks, Pepperdine's leadership team has been closely watching how the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to impact organizations around the world. We now know that recent job losses are leading to record unemployment claims, and we also know that higher education as an industry will almost certainly be impacted—perhaps significantly. As colleges and universities around the world begin to grapple with the short- and long-term effects the pandemic will have on their projected enrollments and operating budgets, many will quickly be confronted with some difficult decisions, including actions that may adversely affect employees and their employment status.
At Pepperdine, our leadership team is exploring every possible option as we carefully evaluate the impact this pandemic will have on our budget, but we are doing so with one guiding philosophy: you matter most. If our remarkable students are the heart of Pepperdine University, then our equally remarkable faculty and staff are its soul. No matter how the government is classifying employees right now, at this university each one of you represents something that is both meaningful and essential, and the work you do is valued beyond measure. As I've said before, the most fundamental thing an organization can do during any crisis is to care for its people, and this is a community that is deeply committed to caring for all of its people.
In that spirit, we previously announced that employees who are unable to perform some or all of their duties remotely would be eligible for up to 80 hours of emergency pay through March 31. However, I'm pleased to report the University will now honor all currently anticipated wage and benefit commitments through the end of the University's fiscal year on July 31, 2020. This decision is an important investment in our people, and as we work through this period of uncertainty together, I'm convinced more than ever that it's the right thing to do. As you think about your own circumstances in the next several months, we hope this decision provides a small measure of comfort and security for you and your family.
Of course, this decision requires us to exhibit a renewed commitment to operational efficiency not only during this difficult time, but also in the year to come. Fundamentally, the University is blessed to operate from a position of financial strength, and we are fortunate to be able to plan for circumstances just like this. Additionally, the University will realize some expense savings, such as reduced travel and utility expenses this fiscal year due to disrupted operations, and we are making decisions to postpone some near-term expenditures, including some capital project spending. Together, we will also have to adapt our practices to capture efficiencies and seek out opportunities to recognize other savings.
Ultimately, these decisions permit us to do what is best for the Pepperdine community while concurrently allowing us to plan for the long term. While we can't know what the future holds, and while we anticipate we will need to prepare for a level of shared sacrifice to come, I know that with God at our side we are and always will be stronger together. Thank you for your trust, for your loyalty in the work you do each day, and for your abiding belief in our extraordinary mission. God bless you.