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4/15/2020 - Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Caltech

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost

The last month has been a whirlwind of disruption as we have adjusted to the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to campus for the majority of faculty, staff, and students, we still have managed to preserve many of the essential research and education functions of the Institute. It has been a community effort, focused on protecting the health of the members of the Caltech community as well as friends and neighbors.   

Beyond the threats to the health and safety of our community are changes in the economy and in Caltech's own budgetary outlook. The Institute's endowment has dropped substantially, philanthropy has become less certain, and research funding may well be harder to obtain. We must act now to position the Institute to weather these changes. To that end, we will implement a set of measures that will slow expenditures and allow us to focus our resources on our most critical objectives. In recognition of the shifts we already see, and in expectation that the economic dislocation will continue for some time, we take the following steps:

(1) Salary freeze: There will be no annual salary increase for faculty or staff in fiscal year 2021. We remain invested in the members of our community who diligently advance the Institute's mission every day. By freezing salaries, the Institute will conserve compensation funds to support our dedicated workforce to the fullest extent possible through a period of extraordinary job loss in the broader economy.

(2) Hiring slowdown: All hiring will require additional review and approval. Each open position will be evaluated and decisions to proceed with hiring will be made with great care. We remain committed to the success of the Institute's endeavors and will take advantage of critical hiring opportunities as they arise.

(3) Deferral of non-essential renovation and construction projects: As long as it is safe and possible to do so, work will continue to complete the Chen Neuroscience Research Building and to renovate laboratories for new faculty hires. We will review all other projects and proceed only with those that are essential to the Institute's core mission. 

We will assess these measures frequently as circumstances change, keeping a vigilant eye on non-essential spending, and we may find that further steps must be taken if economic conditions deteriorate. We are grateful for your partnership and understanding as we undertake these efforts to buttress the Institute. Most of all, we appreciate the fact that we are navigating our current challenges alongside colleagues who are so deeply committed to the Institute and its role in improving the human condition.