CANR State of the College - July 27, 2020
A State of the College Q&A with CANR Leadership.
- Will any of the CARES Act funding be delivered to units that coded unusual expenses with the COVID-19 project code?
We are still coding expenses. However, to my knowledge, we have not yet received any reimbursement funding back to the units.
- A recent email said all must wear cloth masks on campus. Are the blue non-surgical masks acceptable?
Yes, that is our understanding.
- As a follow-up to my CARES Act funding question, the expense incurred by units to pay two weeks of emergency paid sick leave due to COVID-19 would seem to be good candidates for an expense abatement to the units.
Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll advocate for flexibility, when we’re able to submit expenses.
- I understand the one person per vehicle policy for field work, but it also means travel costs are 2 or 3 times higher than expected when budgets were formulated. Given the low gas prices, is there a chance that MSU Transportation Services could lower costs for long-term leased vehicles used for research?
With every unit on campus hit by the budget reductions, my guess is probably not, but we can certainly raise the issue.
- What are the current plans for transportation and getting students to field sites/land that aren’t on campus?
We are still working to get some clarity on what will be allowed. We are encouraging instructors to try to keep as much activity on the main campus as possible. We hope to have some more information on this within the next week or so.
- Will the MAPS & AIMS program continue to be offered in summer 2021?
We hope so and are planning for that online as well, if needed.
- For fixed term faculty and academic specialists whose salaries are paid by competitive grants, salary reductions will not help address the MSU budget shortfall. Salary reductions for them will also reduce the contribution these grant funds make to the university's overall medical benefits burden. These faculty and specialists are generally on the lowest end of the scale. Therefore, how does MSU justify including them in the salary reduction policy?
This was a decision made by President Stanley. Those who make less than $50,000 are being exempted from the reduction, as are all Research Associates and Senior Research Associates. Also exempted are those appointed at 89% employment time or less.
- Given that on a national basis, Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting particular demographic groups, are we considering any efforts particularly directed towards students in those groups? And have we checked for whether our students in these demographic groups are returning in the fall at the same rate as other student groups?
I believe there is some work happening on this at the University level, but we will need to confirm.
- Can students eat their lunch outside on university grounds as long as they are six feet from other people?
There is confusion with the mandatory mask requirement outside. This answer is not yet clear. I expect the rest of campus will follow what RHS decides to do in this regard, as we know carry-out food/meals from campus dorm cafeterias will be strongly encouraged.
- Can you state one more time who on our grants will have pay cuts beginning in September? On our grants we have: undergraduates, graduate research assistants, post docs, research technicians. Which of these groups are required to have a pay cut?
All non-union faculty and academic staff positions with the exception of those making less than $50,000 or all Research Associate and Senior Research Associate positions. Also exempted are those appointed at 89% employment time or less.
Non-union faculty and academic staff (FAS) will incur salary reductions starting Sept. 1. Post docs (research associates) will be exempted from this. Students, grad assistants are also not included. Research technicians are part of a collective bargaining unit, so they are not included at this time. At this time, the salary reductions are for FAS non-union positions only.
- If we are teaching an "in person" lab, what suggestions do you suggest for maintaining social distancing (6 feet or more) to assure safety of students & staff?
Please check with your unit leader. A teaching lab document was created by one of the reopening subcommittees that should be used to help guide how instructors with lab and field courses can operate. There are still some questions in this area and we are pushing those to the reopening subcommittees to gain more clarity. You are welcome to send me an email with questions you may have and if we don’t have the answer, we will ask at the University level.
- What groups are affected by the MSU's reduction towards retirement contribution?
Non-union faculty and academic staff positions will be affected by the reduction to the MSU retirement contribution.
- What is the link for the MSUE webinars/resources for addressing race and racism that Dr. Dwyer mentioned?
Please contact Dionardo Pizana (email@example.com) for info on this.
- Is the college planning to incentivize retirements as a way to help with budget shortages?
Yes, there are incentives that have been shared with leaders in the respective units and departments to assist with shortfalls.
- When are the contracts being renegotiated for the various unions? Is that occurring currently so union employees may have pay cuts or is there no contract negotiations occurring until 2021?
Unions have current collective bargaining agreements in place. Expiration dates vary in 2022 and 2023.
- Have research activities in Oakland or Wayne Counties resumed? Particularly interested in day trips, outdoor activities.
We are willing to consider and have approved a couple with proper precautions. Feel free to submit a request through the usual process and we’ll get you an answer.