University response to economic effects of COVID-19

Dear Marquette faculty and staff:

As we enter this most holy time of year, the changes in our lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic are even more apparent, knowing we cannot gather to celebrate the Easter Triduum and services that are the hallmark of our faith. This pandemic has created many challenges for all of us on both personal and professional levels. We sincerely appreciate and are grateful for each of you during the last month of unprecedented change. St. Ignatius said, “Love is shown more in deeds than in words,” and your good deeds on behalf of our students and each other personify the love all of us have for this special place.

Sadly, the entire world is suffering from the devastating human and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — Marquette is not immune to these challenges. We have done the right thing for our students by refunding a half semester’s worth of room and board costs. This reduction in our room and board revenue combined with other lost revenues and additional expenses related to the pandemic has resulted in an immediate short-term financial shortfall of approximately $15 million. Please know that we have prayerfully considered all the decisions outlined below to best address this shortfall and ensure a strong future for Marquette.

In response to this unexpected financial strain — and with the full support of the Board of Trustees — we are taking the following steps:

  • University travel is suspended: All university travel is suspended for the rest of the fiscal year, through June 30.
  • Discretionary spending is being reduced: The offices of the President, Provost and Senior Vice President, along with deans, vice provosts and vice presidents, received a target amount for reducing discretionary spending in their areas for the remainder of the fiscal year. Discretionary spending includes all expenditures that are not essential to teaching and supporting our students. There are some natural cost savings through canceled university events, reduced campus services, fewer office expenses and lower utility costs.
  • Nonessential hiring activities are temporarily paused: Our primary focus is our care and concern for existing faculty and staff. Only those positions that must be filled immediately due to operational continuity or that are targeted to be filled for the summer or fall 2020 semesters will be posted during this time.
  • Merit increases for 2020–21 are paused: We are pausing the previously communicated all-university merit increases that were planned to take effect during the 2020–21 academic year. This was an especially painful decision given how impressed we have been with our community’s creative and nimble response to our new reality and the multitude of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Work from home continues through April 30: Following the federal government’s guidance, faculty and staff will continue to work from home through Thursday, April 30, with only critical staff on campus to maintain essential operations. This date may be extended to align with future federal, state or city orders.
  • Temporary furloughs after April 17: All faculty and staff will continue to be paid through Friday, April 17. After that, we will join many of our higher education peers in furloughing employees who are not able to perform their core job duties at home. Approximately 250 employees will be placed on temporary unpaid furlough until the university’s normal operations resume and they can return to their roles on campus. Out of respect for the dignity of each individual, all furloughed employees will retain their current medical, dental and vision insurance, and Marquette will pay both the employer and employee portions of their insurance premiums during the temporary furloughs. In addition, tuition remission benefits, and vacation time and sick leave accruals will continue while employees are temporarily furloughed. Affected employees can utilize their remaining vacation days, if they choose to do so, or may file for state unemployment compensation benefits and federal support immediately. Temporarily furloughed employees will receive more information beginning today. There is no defined end date for the temporary furloughs as of now. It is our intention to return all employees to their roles as soon as regular, sustained work becomes available on campus.

We understand this is difficult information, and we ask our campus community to continue to support and lift each other up during this challenging time. We appreciate your patience and grace, as all of us are navigating a situation we have never experienced before — one that has no road map and no definitive end date. The decisions we make today and how we choose to respond in this time of uncertainty will determine how Marquette emerges from this global crisis.

Looking ahead, the university may need to make other significant decisions to help mitigate the long-term financial effects of COVID-19. We intend to work with the unions present on campus to gain their partnership. Our future financial health depends on the demand for online Summer Studies, our ability to virtually recruit next year’s incoming class, and how Marquette and other private universities will benefit from a government stimulus package. We are exploring all scenarios and financial models, and we promise to communicate with you frequently.

As leaders, you have our commitment to humbly serve you and always consider our Catholic, Jesuit principles to guide our actions. Decisions that impact people we care deeply about are extremely difficult. We join you in praying for an end to this pandemic so that we can see all of you back on Marquette’s campus, fulfilling our mission to develop women and men for and with others. It is only the hope and trust in the Easter resurrection that can bring any true comfort in this news. We know that our Lord can make all things new again.


Dr. Michael R. Lovell

Dr. Kimo Ah Yun
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Joel Pogodzinski
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer