Guidance on the use of discretionary funds

April 15, 2020

Dear Faculty,

As communicated previously, the financial impact of COVID-19 is anticipated to be significant and may take many forms, including, but not limited to, increased financial aid cost, loss of tuition/housing revenue, constrained research indirect cost funding and reduced philanthropy. We have begun to mitigate this expected impact, including strongly urging that the use of discretionary funds be constrained at least until we better understand the likely financial impact on campus operations. I am writing to provide more context and clarification regarding the use of discretionary funds.

Discretionary funds include the following:

  • All funds for which the use is not restricted by an external sponsor or donor;
  • All funds which are not already contractually committed;
  • All funds for which the individual or operating unit managing the funds has the responsibility to determine how and when the funds are used.

The use of these discretionary funds at this time should be limited, as we do not yet have a full understanding of how the economic impact of COVID-19 will impact campuswide operations, including research and other program activities managed directly by faculty and academic departments. The most prudent action is to conserve and protect resources so future use can be appropriately prioritized to address the financial needs that may arise.

Control over use of faculty startup or other faculty-managed accounts is not changing, but we ask each faculty member to be circumspect about their use in the short term. Research and other program activities may be negatively impacted by external and internal funding pressures, and the conservation of discretionary funds now will better position you for managing financial pressures that may arise in the coming months. Further, funds provided on an as-needed basis to these accounts by the colleges can provide substantial flexibility for the colleges if expenditures are slowed.

We appreciate your flexibility as we work to weather the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Michael Kotlikoff