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2020 Budget Message from Interim-President Bernstein

Dear Colleagues,

As the global pandemic threatened New York two months ago, our campus community rallied together to protect the health and well-being of students, staff, and faculty. Throughout, we have remained focused on also pursuing to maximum effect our missions in education, scholarship, research, art-making, and service.

We now must turn our attention to the budgetary challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

The recently enacted state budget includes extraordinary provisions related to the public health emergency. The New York State Department of Budget (DOB) is now authorized to reevaluate all state appropriations every three months, allowing for real-time adjustments throughout the fiscal year. The Governor has already indicated significant cuts in state support will most likely be imposed over time. Such reductions will obviously worsen the significant financial burdens with which our University already contends.

We are in the process of developing budget scenarios, as directed by SUNY, estimating potential cuts in state support that may range from 10 percent to 25 percent. Clearly any shortfalls will make our situation more daunting, as opportunities for further expenditure reduction are very limited. We must also remain mindful of the fact that many units are already operating with extremely lean rosters.

All this being said, we must nevertheless make significant adjustments to respond to an array of challenging financial impacts. Hiring and spending controls will consequently be put in place for the next 60 days and may be extended or adjusted as circumstances warrant. Specific implementation protocols for these controls will be shared with area budget directors.

Effective immediately, the following steps will be taken:

Hiring Freeze: In conformity with all SUNY campuses and New York State agencies, all hiring will cease unless directly approved by senior University leadership.

Spending Hold: All contracting and spending proposals will be held unless approved by senior University leadership.

In a period of unprecedented hardships, our University’s goals, mission, and principles always remain the same. Our goals are to secure the safety, health, and welfare of our communities. Our mission is to promote exemplary accomplishment in education, research, scholarship, art-making, professional service, and healthcare. Our principles are forever anchored in an unstinting commitment to transparency, equity, fairness, decency, and goodwill.

For your unconditional dedication and hard work, I thank you. All of you, individually and collectively, empower the continued pursuit of excellence at Stony Brook University.

With my best wishes and warmest regards,

Michael A. Bernstein
Professor of Business, Economics, and History
Interim President

May 4, 2020