Our Morty is President Skorton. Yesterday he sent the letter below.  Awfully familiar, though note the electronic “suggestion box” for ideas they have set up for how to solve the financial problem.

Members of the Cornell community:

I write to update you on our handling of the current financial
situation and to invite you to a series of public fora to discuss our
way forward.

The recent meeting of the Cornell University Board of Trustees and
subsequent meetings of university and collegiate leadership have
focused on the effects of the current economic crisis on the
university community. While we cannot be certain about the dimensions,
depth and duration of the difficulty, we are confident Cornell is in a
good position to adjust operations and budget to address a loss in
revenue in the wake of the financial crisis, relying on the
institutional expertise and commitment of faculty, staff, alumni,
students and friends.

Cornell University will remain focused on the need to attract and
retain the best and brightest students, faculty and staff. To this
end, we will maintain our commitment to our students and their
families by strengthening our financial aid programs; sustain
competitive market-based faculty and staff pay programs; make critical
and cost-effective capital and infrastructure investments; and support
our land grant mission for the State of New York.

In addition to actions already begun in response to State budget cuts,
we will also take careful, collegial and substantive actions within
the contract and endowed colleges and the central administration to
streamline operations and redirect resources to those programs that
will contribute to Cornell’s future success. While there will be no
across the board cuts or layoffs, we will institute, effective
November 3, 2008:

– A hiring pause, through March 31, 2009, on non-professorial hiring
from outside the university.  The purpose of this pause is not to
suspend all hiring.  Rather, it is to reduce costs this academic year
and to preserve employment opportunities for our high-performing
employees who might be dislocated in the near term and, using
attrition, to identify unoccupied positions that can be eliminated as
the best way to minimize the need to lay off staff in the future.

– A 90-day construction pause to re-calibrate the university’s capital
budget in order to align funding sources and uses more realistically.
Hence, for the next 90 days:

– Projects that do not have construction contracts will be put
on hold.

– Projects that are in design will be permitted to complete that
phase of work they are in and then will be put on hold.

– Projects where no design contract has been let will be held
for review and prioritization.

– All physical infrastructure projects that have not been
initiated will be put on hold.

– All information technology capital investment projects that
have not been initiated will be put on hold.

– Local transportation and housing projects that have not been
initiated will be put on hold.

–  A rigorous 45-day university-wide review of operational
effectiveness, financial policies and procedures to identify specific
actions to contain costs, streamline operations and protect the
institution from unintended financial exposure, while optimizing the
use of university resources, to be incorporated in next academic
year’s budget.

The university will host public fora in the weeks ahead to discuss
evolving plans and solicit ideas. To begin this effort, we have set up
a “suggestion box,” at www.cuinfo.cornell.edu for students, faculty,
staff and alumni to submit recommendations. We will also provide
regular progress reports about plans and changes. The first forum,
open to the entire community, will be on Wednesday, November 5 at noon
in Bailey Hall; the second will take place on Thursday, November 6 at
4 P.M. in the Statler Auditorium.

Best regards,

David J. Skorton

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