Virtual IT Town Hall recap - June 19

June 25, 2020

John opened the Town Hall with an acknowledgement of Juneteenth, an annual holiday celebrated on June 19, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

He then expressed appreciation to everyone who attended and participated in the Climate, Culture, and Inclusion wellness check-in last week. 

Next, he spoke on the state of campus planning and how there is a lot of work happening to prepare for a broader campus restart. He reminded us that formal announcements from President Salovey are expected in July.

John explained how IT is heavily involved in many of these efforts and that the University has a very high level of dependency on IT at this time due to new demands on our faculty, online learning enviroments, and return to campus planning efforts. He acknowledged that IT has been doing an amazing job responding to needs as they arise.

The following questions, and John Barden’s answers, were taken from the June 19 virtual IT Town Hall meeting. Several questions were also submitted via the Ask John survey.

Will outside vendors/installers (e.g. NIS, Fortin Electric, etc.) be required to be tested?

I don’t have information on that, but I will find out.

Is there any guarantee that an employee who takes a phased retirement plan will not be laid off before the end of the phased retirement period? Can we expect layoffs in the upcoming fiscal year?

The University has been financially impacted by COVID-19. We’ve taken a massive hit—research came to grinding halt and our endowment fell as a result of fluctuations with the stock market. Therefore, we are belt tightening. 

I’m not actively working on staff reductions for IT, but I can’t guarantee we won’t go there. You’ve all done a remarkable job and I want to do everything I can to maintain this team we have today. Some members of our team may also take advantage of retirement opportunities, and I support their decision if that makes the most sense for their family.

When will we learn more about Enhanced Retirement Programs? 

Blanche Temple: There is a New Retirement Severance Program (non-phased):

  • Managerial & Professional (M&P) staff who may be eligible will receive an email to inform them of the new program, followed by a mailing to their home with all related documents. 
  • M&P staff who are currently on a phased retirement agreement are not eligible.
  • Eligible staff are required to retire between May 26 and July 31, 2020.
  • The program includes a one-time payment of $1,500 for each completed year of service.
  • There is also an Enhanced Phased-in Retirement option for M&P staff. Details for this and the University’s current Phased-in Retirement can be found on the Phased Staff Retirement page located on the It’s Your Yale website. Please note: ITS has an internal review process for these programs; please reach out to if you have interest in these programs.

Will ITS ease up on the use of outside contractors and vendors before any layoffs of our own staff are considered?

We’ve already started reducing our dependency on outside vendors and further reductions are expected into July of this year. There will still be cases where specialized outside knowledge will be needed, on demand. However, we’ve been on a march to reduce our dependency on third party resources. I expect that will continue to be the case. As we continue to see buildup of budgetary pressure, we will reassess our needs.

Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and others all declared Juneteenth a holiday; will Yale consider this date as a formal holiday?

This information didn’t make it’s way into conversations at the University level in time for this year’s acknowledgement of Juneteenth, and this is not a decision I would make locally.

Were returning/incoming students surveyed for their opinion on how to safely return to Yale Campus?

I’m not sure, but Pericles Lewis is working with the deans to make global policy decisions. Most of those deans are working with their individual units. I don’t know that each unit has looked into their student populations; however, nationally, there has been a lot of chatter about student perspectives and feedback, including an opinion piece by a Yale student who was not surveyed.

Currently, contact tracing and testing are “opt-in”. It seems like that would render both efforts ineffective. Are these likely to become a requirement in order to keep the community safe?

Conversations are in progress and decisions have not yet been made. There may be more clarity regarding the residential college community than for the rest of our community at this time. 

These measures aren’t substitutes for safe practices. They help to reduce the potential risk for broader transmission. At the end of the day, we can monitor all we want on campus, but we also need to maintain these safe practices outside of campus. I plead with you to be cautious about your choices.

I don’t expect the majority of us to return to campus soon. For those who can still work from home (as hard as it may be), you have proven that you can continue to do this. Fellow leaders are echoing this approach. I am in no rush to put you or our community at risk. 

John closed the Town Hall thanking everyone for the wonderful job everyone is doing.
Remember, you can submit time-sensitive “Ask John” questions through the bi-weekly virtual IT Town Hall meetings. Other questions submitted through Ask John will be held for future editions or asked at an upcoming meeting. Note: Questions previously answered in earlier Virtual IT Town Halls will not be republished unless new information is available.
The next IT Virtual Town Hall will be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on July 2, 2020.