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Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence

Dear Colleagues:

It is customary to recognize those members of our community who are retiring, celebrating milestone anniversaries, or receiving an award at the Awards and Recognition Luncheon in May.  Due to the current crisis we are unable to be together and are postponing the event until further notice. 

I announced the 2020 Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence recipient on Friday, May 8 during the conference call and would like to share the good news with those who were unable to participate.  The award was established to recognize an outstanding member of the University staff or administrators for his/her tireless efforts, dedication, creativity, and evident commitment to supporting and enhancing Monmouth. 

Fourteen individuals were nominated this year, and it is very gratifying to know that we care so much for the good work of our colleagues. It gives me great pleasure to announce Amanda Klaus, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving, as the 2020 Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence recipient.  

Amanda was nominated for her deep passion and dedication to Monmouth University.  Amanda’s role with our Alumni provides her with the opportunity for making lasting relationships.  However, beyond that role, she has been active with our current students as a club advisor and has chaperoned a service-learning trip to Haiti.  She also serves on the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and leads the President’s Relief Fund team. 

Please join me in congratulating Amanda on receiving this prestigious award.

Sincerely,

Pat

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy

President

Sad News – Loss of a Student

To the Members of the Monmouth University Community:

It is with deep regret that I share with you the death of one of our students, Rory Hamill, on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Rory was a third year student at Monmouth majoring in Social Work.  In addition, he was one of our student veterans, having served honorably as a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps.  He served one tour of duty in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, where he was injured and subsequently awarded a Purple Heart. 

The loss of a student is always so painful for a community like ours, and it is even more difficult today as we must continue to limit our gathering to commemorate his life and service to our country.

For those directly affected by Rory’s passing, counseling and other support services are available through the Monmouth University Counseling Center at 732-571-7517 or at mucounseling@monmouth.edu. Or, feel free to reach out to the Office of the Vice President for Student Life at mnagy@monmouth.edu.

Please find a way today to remember Rory and his brave service to our country. And, keep his family, including his three children, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Thank you.

Dr. Patrick Leahy
President

Fiscal Realities

Dear Colleagues:

Since the Crisis Management Team first convened in late January to monitor this public health crisis, our top priority at Monmouth University has been ensuring the safety and welfare of all the constituents entrusted to our care. It is always our highest priority, but especially during a global pandemic. Now that we have migrated our teaching and learning to a remote environment both for the remainder of the spring term and for the summer sessions, we need to turn our collective attention to the fiscal realities that this crisis is creating for Monmouth University.

As the coronavirus situation was rapidly unfolding, we took numerous actions to support our university community. For students, we have provided prorated room, meal, and parking refunds; preserved on-campus jobs for the remainder of the semester, even if remote work is unmanageable; and established the President’s Relief Fund to aid students who are dealing with pandemic-related financial hardship. For faculty and staff members, we have committed to paying full wages and benefits, even when some work is nearly impossible to accomplish in a remote environment. At the same time, we have absorbed additional costs to adapt teaching and learning to a remote environment, accrued substantial revenue losses from outside event cancellations and reduced bookstore sales, and lost significant philanthropic support as the country has plunged into an economic recession. Taken together, these factors have placed significant pressure on our current operating budget for the fiscal year ending on June 30.

The federal CARES Act should offer some assistance, as each individual institution will be allocated relief money from the legislation. However, the details on that funding, including when it will arrive and how it may be spent, remain unclear. We cannot count on these funds to be flexible enough to help balance our current budget, so we must take matters into our own hands. 

Accordingly, I am announcing the following measures, aimed at mitigating the financial impact and ensuring budgetary discipline for the remainder of the fiscal year.

  • Freeze Hiring. All open and new positions – academic and non-academic alike – are frozen through the remainder of the fiscal year. We will complete searches that are currently underway. Any other essential replacement positions that arise over the next three months must be approved by the Cabinet.
  • Control Non-Essential Operating Expenses. I have asked the vice presidents to pause all non-essential operating expenditures in each of their respective divisions. We will aggressively manage operating expenses with a goal to save $4 million between now and fiscal year-end. We will, of course, continue to make essential investments, where necessary, in academic learning and support to ensure a high-quality remote learning experience for our students.
  • Suspend Capital Projects. All capital projects are postponed until further notice. The only exception is the continued work on the simulation lab at the Graduate Center, which is a joint effort between Monmouth Medical Center and the university. The vice presidents will approve any essential maintenance projects on a case-by-case basis.
  • Implement Senior Administrative Salary Reductions. Effective May 1, cabinet members will be taking a 10 percent reduction in salary and will be forgoing any salary increases for at least the next six months. For my part, I will be taking a 25 percent pay cut. Other salary reductions from around the campus may be considered in the weeks ahead, as we evaluate summer and fall enrollments.
  • Develop Furlough Program. I have asked the vice presidents to talk with the Staff Council and union leadership about the possibility of implementing a furlough program, designed to keep employees as whole as possible while taking leaves of absence from the University during the slow periods over the coming weeks. New unemployment benefits under the CARES Act include an additional $600 weekly payment, helping some employees maintain or even exceed their regularly earned wages while collecting unemployment. Additional information will be shared under separate cover in the coming days, following discussions with key stakeholders.

We have no choice but to create room in our operating budget this year both to cover lost revenue and to fund the unforeseen expenses associated with the rapid transition to remote instruction and learning. Doing all of this will give us a fighting chance to break even in the midst of this crisis. 

In addition, this global pandemic will, no doubt, adversely influence summer and fall enrollments, which will put pressure on next year’s budget as well. We will spend the next few weeks working through these challenges in order to prepare a balanced budget for the Board of Trustees, which is our institutional commitment to them. 

This public health crisis – and its associated economic fallout – is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Our actions must reflect our new realities. My promise to you is that we will do everything we can to make decisions that are equitable, fair, and in the best interest of our core constituency: our students. I will be hosting another round of faculty and staff calls to provide additional information in the coming days. If you have questions in the interim, please feel free to direct them to me at patrick.leahy@monmouth.edu

Thank you for your brave efforts during this challenging time. We remain Monmouth Strong. 

Sincerely,

Pat

Patrick F. Leahy, President

Summer Courses

Dear Faculty and Staff Members:

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with all of you this past week. It is important that we do all we can to preserve and maintain our personal connections during these difficult times. As I said on our calls, the health and safety of each of you, along with our students, is our top priority, and it continues to guide our decision-making as the University works to navigate and respond to the implications and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In consultation with both faculty and administrative leadership, I have made several decisions regarding summer classes, alumni events, and other related issues.

Summer Classes. We will continue remote instruction and learning for all summer sessions. Many summer course offerings were previously scheduled to be online, and they will proceed as planned. All in-person and hybrid courses will move to the online format exclusively. We have extended the Summer 2019 tuition pricing to students taking courses this summer, including the 15 percent discount we have traditionally offered for undergraduate summer courses. Additionally, graduate students who were eligible for a graduate scholarship this past academic year will again be able to apply their scholarship to summer courses, provided they complete six credits over the five summer sessions. If the public health guidance changes, providing an opportunity to add some in-person courses later this summer, academic departments will be able to consider those additions. Due to the ongoing crisis presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty Council has passed a resolution to extend the flexible grading policy through the Summer 2020 sessions.

Alumni Weekend. Each year, we look forward to celebrating our alumni and other special members of the University family, but out of health and safety concerns for our community, we have cancelled Alumni Weekend, originally scheduled for June 12-15. We are exploring the option of incorporating some elements of Alumni Weekend into Homecoming Weekend (October 23-25), if possible, and will share details as they become available.

Summer Programming and Events. We have already cancelled all in-person events and programs on campus through May 31. We will make a decision no later than May 1 on all other programs, events, and camps scheduled to start after June 1.

Thank you for all you are doing in the face of great adversity. Employees will continue to work remotely until further notice. While our conversion to remote work was abrupt, please know that we are mindful of the need for a planned transition for our return to campus when government and public health officials deem it is safe for us to do so. I continue to draw inspiration from your commitment to serving our students, and I am grateful for your dedication.

I hope that you and your families are well and continue to stay safe. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me directly at Patrick.Leahy@monmouth.edu.

Pat

Patrick F. Leahy

President

Important COVID-19 Update

Dear Faculty and Staff:


In consultation with all governing parties (Crisis Management Team, Cabinet, Board of Trustees, facutly, staff, and student leadership), we have made the decision to continue to go with remote instruction and learning for the entire semester. 

Please see below the formal message I just sent to students and their parents. 

Thank you all for your efforts during this challenging time. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Patrick Leahy

President

From: Leahy, Patrick
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 4:27 PM
To: ‘students@monmouth.edu’ <students@monmouth.edu>
Subject: Important COVID-19 Update – Please read

Office of the President

Dear Monmouth Students:

Since the first message to all of you on Feb. 7, I have promised an aggressive, yet measured approach in our response to this global pandemic, which arrived recently in Monmouth County and is currently expanding in the region. The safety and welfare of those entrusted to our care is now — and always will be — our top priority.

Given Governor Murphy’s most recent executive order, as well as the public health professionals’ best estimates of the pandemic’s trajectory and timeline, we have little choice but to continue remote instruction and learning for the duration of the spring semester. We held out on making this decision as long as possible in the hope that we might all be together again before the end of the semester, but, unfortunately, that no longer looks possible. We join nearly all of the other higher education institutions in New Jersey in making this very difficult decision to suspend in-person instruction for the entire semester. While we will be unable to gather on campus as one Monmouth community, we remain committed to offering you in this remote learning environment the personalized education that you expect from us, enabling each of you to continue to make progress on your academic journey.

The decision to extend remote instruction and learning through the end of the semester prompts a cascade of other considerations, including the following. 

·       Grading. In collaboration with the Provost, the Faculty Council has approved a flexible grading policy for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. At the conclusion of the semester, faculty will award letter grades to students for their work. Once standard letter grades are posted, students may choose to keep some or all of those standard grades (A-F), or they may choose to have some or all of the grades recorded as Pass/Fail (P/F).  This policy offers the most flexibility possible for students. The Provost will provide the full policy details and considerations for students under separate cover.

·       On-Campus Work. We have worked to preserve all on-campus student employment opportunities, wherever possible, for the remainder of the semester. Students will continue to be paid for work performed, though they have been asked to work remotely, just as full-time staff have been asked to do so. In addition, we will honor graduate assistantships and Federal Work Study awards. Please be in touch with your campus supervisor for more details. 

·       Residential Move-out. The Office of Residential Life will conduct the move-out process over a 14-day period, beginning Thursday, March 26. In adherence to the strict social distancing guidelines set forth by the State of New Jersey, students will be required to make an appointment to recover their belongings and may be accompanied by no more than one person. Area coordinators will provide detailed instructions, including the scheduled days for specific buildings, either later today or tomorrow. To comply with the executive order, the move-out process cannot begin until March 26, so be on the lookout for more information soon.

·       Refunds. The Board of Trustees has approved a policy to ensure that all students will receive prorated refunds or credits on unused room contracts, meal plans, and parking fees. All refunds and credits will be prorated for the period beginning March 23, 2020 through the end of the semester. Additional details will be shared shortly.

·       Commencement. The University is committed to hosting traditional, in-person, graduation ceremonies for both undergraduate and graduate students in order to properly celebrate our students’ achievements. The May dates will be postponed to a time later this summer when public health officials deem it safe to hold such celebrations. Details will be forthcoming. 

·       Summer International Trips. All faculty-led and study abroad summer programs are cancelled for the Summer 2020 sessions. Making this decision now protects students against incurring any fees that might be unrecoverable later.

·       Summer Courses. At this point, summer courses will continue as scheduled. We encourage students to register for these courses as normal. Any change to the mode of delivery or to the schedule of classes will be communicated later in the spring, as the public health situation dictates.

We will continue to provide additional information in the days and weeks ahead. Please check your Monmouth e-mail on a daily basis for updates. 

Lastly, I understand the hardship these trying times can create for students, especially those with limited financial means. To that end, I have established a President’s Relief Fund that can provide small grants to students to relieve financial pressures during this difficult time. Please visit monmouth.edu/relief to fill out a simple appeal form. Resources are limited, so I cannot guarantee that every appeal will be funded, but let’s try. 

President Kennedy once said: “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men and women.” I pray that all of us can summon additional strength to navigate these turbulent times. Together, we will weather this storm and make Monmouth University better than ever. If you have any questions or comments regarding these decisions, please feel free to contact my office directly at president@monmouth.edu. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and will ensure each message gets a response. 

Thank you for being a part of the Monmouth University community.

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy

President

COVID-19 Update

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

The health and safety of our University community is my top priority and I am committed to keeping you updated on campus developments related to COVID-19.

The University has been informed that a member of our campus community has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently seeking treatment. The individual was last on campus on Monday, March 9. I know this news will understandably raise additional concerns, however, for reasons of health privacy, the University cannot identify the individual nor provide additional details. In accordance with established public health protocols, officials from the Freehold Area Health Department will reach out directly to any individual(s) who may need to be notified and/or interviewed in connection with this case. I know you join me in keeping this individual in your thoughts and prayers.

The University has taken a number of steps to reduce risk for our campus community, including moving to a remote learning and instruction model, modifying business operations to support social distancing through reduced and remote staffing, restricting University travel, canceling events and tours, and instituting an enhanced sanitation protocol. We continue to respond to the latest government and public health guidance and expect to share another update in the coming days.

Again, your health and well-being is a top priority for me. Please visit our COVID-19 web page for updated information and campus initiatives.

Dr. Patrick Leahy
President

March 17 University Update on COVID-19

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:Thank you all for your continued understanding as we work to keep you updated on the steps we are taking to carry out our educational mission while responding in a safe and responsible way to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University’s March 12 decision to move to a remote instruction and learning model places us in complete compliance with the executive order signed by Governor Murphy yesterday. Specifically, the executive order requires colleges and universities to cease in-person instruction, effective March 18. As you all know, Monmouth University has already sent most residential students home, offering exceptions only to those students who have formally petitioned for exemptions. We will initiate remote learning and instruction on March 23, at which time all academic programming will be delivered remotely without exception. Any content that cannot be delivered in this remote fashion will be made up later in the semester.  At this time, we have made the immediate decision to extend remote instruction and learning through April 10. This one-week extension to our original plan marks the midpoint of the period between spring break and finals. This new date will give us additional time to assess the progression of the pandemic and afford us one last chance to consider reopening the campus and bringing everyone together before the end of the semester. If the coronavirus situation does not improve significantly by early April, then we will extend the remote academic delivery through the end of the semester. A final decision on this will come in the days ahead. However, we remain dedicated to delivering the same high-quality, highly personalized education you expect from us, whether that be in-person or from a distance. 

In addition, consistent with the executive order, the University has modified its in-person business operations in support of social distancing efforts. Monmouth University will continue to operate during normal business hours, with most employees working remotely at full pay and benefits. Only a limited number of designated, essential staff will report to campus. To clarify, universities have not been mandated to close; they have been mandated to cease in-person instruction and to minimize the number of people on campus, which the University has already done. This executive order will remain in effect until public health officials declare it safe to return to in-person instruction. We will continue to evaluate this timeline and will share updates as they become available.

I understand that this situation is incredibly disconcerting for everyone, and I appreciate your patience and kindness as we respond to the latest public health information. University leadership – in collaboration with faculty, staff, and student leadership – will continue to evaluate the situation in the context of the relevant government and public health guidance, and we will update you accordingly. You may also visit our COVID-19 information web page for the latest information and resources for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. 

In the coming days I will also explore additional ways for our community to stay connected during this difficult time. At times like these, I am reminded of a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. She said: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I am so grateful to all of you for living this maxim right now.

Thank you. 

Dr. Patrick LeahyPresident 

P.S. A video version of this message is available on our COVID-19 web page.

Friday Night Student Behavior – Update

Dear Members of the Monmouth University Community:

Let me begin by apologizing for the pain, anger, and profound disappointment our campus community and the community at-large have experienced as a result of the hurtful and offensive actions taken by several members of our student body at the men’s basketball game on our campus on March 6. Upon hearing of this troubling incident, I promised an aggressive investigation, since discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated on this campus. Here is an update. 

The individuals involved were immediately identified, and their case was elevated to the Monmouth University Police Department.  Pursuant to the Attorney General’s April 5, 2019 Revised Bias Incident Investigation Standards, the Monmouth University Police Department was mandated to report the bias incident to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.  The Prosecutor’s Office determined that the conduct did not meet the legal standards of a bias crime under New Jersey Law.  As a result, the Prosecutor’s Office referred the case back to us at the University for adjudication under our Student Code of Conduct.

The individuals involved have been charged under the Student Code of Conduct. Our investigation thus far has established that these specific students did use a reference to sexual orientation as an insult, but they did not target an individual or group of individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. This distinction in no way absolves these students of their actions, but these facts are significantly different from those that heretofore have been reported and shared. Regardless, these actions represent a clear breach of established student conduct protocols and are an insult to our collective community. Our investigation continues, and sanctions, commensurate with the ultimate findings, will be levied. It is clear that we have a lot more work to do in educating these students about creating a safe and welcoming community for all.

In the meantime, I have reached out to the President of Siena College, have shared these details with her, and have apologized on behalf of the Monmouth University community. I have assured her that the Siena Saints will always be welcome on this campus. 

Members of the LGBTQA+ community should also always feel welcome on our campus. Monmouth University is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse, and genuinely welcoming community for all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. As the new president, I have made this a top priority for my administration, as evidenced by the comprehensive culture study that I have commissioned to establish a campus climate baseline. The survey has been open for three weeks, and I encourage all members of the University community to complete it. Once the results are tabulated, I will work with the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion – as well as with the Faculty Council, with the newly-established Staff Council, with the Student Government Association, and with representative student, faculty, staff leaders – to develop programming and initiatives that will ensure we are living up to our commitment.

To all of our current and future LGBTQA+ Hawks, I welcome your ideas to help ensure Monmouth University is an institution you can proudly call home.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick Leahy

President