COVID-19 - Financial Considerations

March 31, 2020

The message below was sent to Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors, and Lead Administrators, on March 30, 2020.

The Yale community has responded to the global challenge of COVID-19 in a way that reflects its strength and character. Our university is resilient.  In just days we have pivoted to remote operations, shifted learning online, maintained support for our workforce, and buttressed our health care partners in New Haven who are treating those directly affected by COVID-19. The pandemic is also placing a significant financial strain on the university.  Today, we write with initial information about the financial implications of COVID-19 on the university.

The university faces immediate and long-term financial consequences from the pandemic. There have been substantial unbudgeted costs associated with stopping the spread of COVID-19, which has been our highest priority. We will experience a decline in many important sources of revenue, including the endowment. Although the full financial costs to the university of COVID-19 are still not known, the university must begin to adjust to new budget realities resulting from the pandemic and likely global economic downturn.

To prepare ourselves for these challenges, we announce the following actions:

We are pausing University-wide hiring for open faculty and staff positions until the end of the academic year, June 30, 2020, except for rare exceptions that must be approved by the provost or senior vice president for operations. Our objective is to focus support on our existing faculty, students, and staff. Deans will review with the provost the status of authorized, ongoing faculty searches and jointly determine which, if any, can proceed this spring, and which should be delayed until the financial situation is clearer.  Human Resources will send additional information about the staff hiring pause.

We ask all units to forgo all non-essential expenditures and reconsider or avoid significant new financial commitments, including the advanced booking of travel for the summer or fall.

Schools and departments must ensure that restricted current use gifts and endowment funds are used first, in accordance with their indentures, before and in place of unrestricted funds, to provide maximum flexibility in responding to the pandemic and the financial situation.

We ask that each school and unit in the university review the budget plans it created last year that modeled a significant loss in endowment or other revenue. It is reassuring that the schools’ and units’ thoughtful “stress test” scenarios will enable the university to act more decisively, strategically, and with greater confidence. Unit leaders and lead administrators will receive more detailed instructions about next steps.

We will continuously evaluate the facts about the larger economy and Yale’s financial situation. We will work collaboratively with leadership of the schools and departments across the university and with our bargaining units. Whatever challenges society faces in the coming months, we are committed to advancing human knowledge, educating leaders, and producing data-driven solutions to meet those challenges. As we face the coming challenges together, we will remain a unified Yale.


Scott Strobel
Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Jack Callahan, Jr.
Senior Vice President for Operations