Office of the Chancellor
Dear UCLA Faculty and Staff:
As we approach fall, UCLA continues to face significant COVID-19–related budget challenges — a reality we expect to reverberate long after the pandemic ends. With just a fraction of our students in on-campus housing, alongside other factors, UCLA will face the greatest financial impact of any University of California campus, an amount that currently stands at about $540 million. These are difficult circumstances, to be sure, but I provide this update in the spirit of openness and transparency that defines us as a public institution.
Despite these challenges, I am making the following commitment: UCLA will have no pandemic-related indefinite or temporary layoffs for career employees through at least January 15, 2021. This is provided that, in areas where there is a lack of available work, affected employees are willing to accept other work duties, which will be offered at the same level of pay and benefits.
Our people are our strength. In a time of anxiety and uncertainty, we are committed to doing what we can for as long as we can to ensure our staff members have meaningful work, a reliable income, and the health care and benefits needed to feel a sense of stability. Fulfilling this pledge, however, will require the support and flexibility of our community. The pandemic has dramatically affected campus operations, leaving significantly less available work in areas like transportation, housing and dining. While 13,600 students typically enroll in housing and dining programs on the Hill during a normal academic year, for instance, that number dropped to 600 by May. Similarly, the number of meals we needed to produce daily fell from approximately 35,000 to 1,000.
We are confident that we will return to normal operations and regular staffing levels in the future. But for now, we will be asking supervisors to be flexible in offering reassignment opportunities, along with training, to those affected by a lack of currently available work. In the same vein, we will encourage employees to take this opportunity to learn new skills and accept new assignments, even if different from their customary duties. One small but meaningful example of a recent reassignment exists within the Office of Strategic Communications, where staff who typically organize in-person events retrained to generate ad sales revenue for the campus.
At the core of UCLA is a commitment to education, and that commitment extends to our career employees. The campus will cover the costs of all necessary job retraining for those asked to take up new duties. To further support these transitions and help create opportunities for employees to pursue new career paths, we will make certain professional development classes and programs available to members of our campus at no charge, including some certificate programs offered by UCLA Extension. In addition, we will offer employees impacted by changes in work the opportunity to strengthen their multi-language skills.
Throughout the past few months, all of our community members have demonstrated an inspiring level of strength, understanding, flexibility and ingenuity. We need this to continue, with the understanding that every effort counts. If staff have ideas for cost savings or ways to adjust duties within their department or unit that can help the campus, we encourage them to speak to their supervisors. As celebrated UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden once said: “Little things make big things happen.”
We do not know how long this pandemic and its associated fiscal impacts will last, though we do know the road to recovery will be long. We are grateful that UCLA is currently in a financial position that allows us to make these commitments and we recognize that this may not be the case for other UC campuses. We will do the best we can to avoid job losses for as many qualified employees for as long as we possibly can.
If everyone does their part, and if we remain dedicated to one another and open to adapting to support the broader needs of our community, we will get through this together — as Bruins.
Gene D. Block