University Responds to Recent Op-ed

April 18, 2020

The University has submitted the following letter to the editor in response to a recent op/ed that left misimpressions about Provost Prentice’s April 8 email to faculty and staff. The University shares the text of the letter below so it is available to all of the University community.

To the editor:

I am writing today in regards to the op-ed of April 16th addressing Princeton’s recent actions in response to COVID-19 and the impacts on our workforce.  In particular, I am reaching out to correct some misimpressions left by the op-ed concerning who on our campus may be affected and how.
The moves announced by the University last week are actually designed to protect the vast majority of our workforce, including those in positions highlighted in the op-ed.  Princeton is what it is because of its people, and we are working to support them during this crisis.  The overwhelming majority of our employees, including those who work in dining services, maintenance, custodial services, and other campus services, are in regular staff roles and therefore are not among the small number of positions we have asked our managers to assess as we head into the summer. 
Like every other college and university, we will be looking for ways to tighten our belt in response to the immense economic pressure being brought to bear by this crisis.  We are fortunate that we have not had to engage in the types of layoffs being instituted or contemplated by many of our peers.  It would be irresponsible of us to say that there will be zero reductions in our workforce, but given our strong financial situation we are able to greatly minimize the number and nature of any job losses, and we are currently able to protect our entire regular workforce.  No blanket layoffs have been instituted, and managers have simply been asked to look at a small number of positions and determine which ones we can continue to support over the long term.    
No institution in this country has been untouched by COVID-19, and that includes Princeton.  Tough choices lay ahead for all of us.  As the University has previously stated, we will be guided by four key principles as we manage our way through those choices--ensuring the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff; restoring our teaching and research activities to normal operations once it is safe to do so; sustaining our commitments to access and affordability; and retaining and supporting our talented workforce.  We want to thank all of our team members for their work during these difficult times, and we all look forward to a time when we can welcome our students back to campus.

Lianne Sullivan-Crowley
Vice President for Human Resources
Princeton University