Skip to main content

Supporting our Stanford workforce

Categories: Leadership communications, Provost, Workplace & HR

Members of our Stanford community,

The coronavirus pandemic is testing our country, and our community, in many new ways. We’re writing today about the steps Stanford is taking to help our community with the financial challenges brought about by the virus, and to announce some new initiatives in this area.

As we’ve all seen, the shelter-in-place and other social distancing measures in our country have helped limit the spread of the illness but have also resulted in a dramatic reduction of economic activity and a collapse in revenues supporting workers. Millions of people in the United States have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks. The scale and speed of the downturn have been staggering.

At Stanford, our academic mission depends vitally upon the staff who provide needed support services to our community every day, in countless ways. Over the last two weeks, university leaders have been assessing the short-term needs facing our workforce, as well as new information in this rapidly changing landscape.

In this process we’ve been listening closely to the comments and suggestions of our community. We’ve been monitoring developments in the external environment, including the effects of the extended shelter-in-place orders and of the federal CARES Act passed two weeks ago. This act provides relief for many workers and their employers including direct checks to many families, significantly enhanced unemployment benefits, and payroll assistance, forgivable loans and other financial support to businesses that retain employees.

We’ve also been evaluating the complexities of the work and contracting arrangements across our decentralized environment. While many services at Stanford are provided by Stanford’s own employees, others are provided by contract firms whose employees fill a particular need, and in yet other cases, vendors rent space from Stanford in order to operate their businesses on campus.

Today, we’re taking several new steps to support financial stability in the immediate term for those who contribute to the work of our university. This approach is specific to these different kinds of work arrangements at Stanford, and it occurs within the context of providing a bridge to the support from our federal and state governments.

First, we’re committing to pay continuation for all regular Stanford employees (both full-time and part-time benefits-eligible employees) through June 15, the end of our spring quarter.

This includes Stanford employees who are represented by a union. We will continue to provide regular pay for these employees even if the need for their services is reduced due to COVID-19. This is a continuation of our policy previously outlined here.

Second, we are creating a new grant program to support Stanford employees who are facing financial hardships – including those who work in certain contingent roles that are not eligible for pay continuation.

For many people who work in temporary or contingent capacities, the need for their services has been reduced due to the loss of on-campus events and other operations. We also know that many employees, in all capacities, are struggling with the loss of family members’ work, the challenges of child care, family health concerns and other pressing needs.

This new program will offer grants for eligible Stanford employees experiencing financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re working now to set up this program and will share information in the coming days about how to apply for assistance.

We’ve heard many people in our community ask in recent days how they can help others in this time of need. If you wish to help, you will have an opportunity to support this new grant program through a voluntary contribution. We will share more about the process as soon as the program details become available.

Third, we will be working with the contract firms whose employees provide ongoing meal, child care, cleaning and sanitation, security, and transit services at Stanford so that, with Stanford resources and the resources offered by the government, these firms will be supported in maintaining income and benefits for these employees through June 15.

As we mentioned above, units at Stanford use contract firms that provide their own employees to fill particular needs for Stanford. For instance, UG2 provides janitorial services for many of our buildings; chefs in our Row houses are employed by the firm SOS; and several of our child care centers are operated by professional child care providers.

With the reduction in on-campus activities, the need for work performed by many of these contract firms has been significantly reduced. We hope and expect that many of those services will be able to resume later this year. In the meantime, we will work with these employers to access the assistance being provided by the federal government through the CARES Act and other government programs, and in addition, we will support these contract firms in maintaining income and benefits through June 15 for their employees who normally provide services at Stanford.

Finally, for the other category of employers who provide services at Stanford – vendors who rent space on campus in order to operate their businesses here – we will be reaching out to assist them.

We have a number of retailers on campus who provide services to our community members, such as cafes, food vendors, the Bike Shop and the Bookstore. Both large and small businesses have this kind of relationship with Stanford, and their resources to navigate the current downturn may vary. We are discussing their individual situations and what Stanford can do to help them until their on-campus operations can resume. This will include providing assistance connecting them to CARES Act resources for those businesses that would welcome it.

These are short-term steps that we have concluded are necessary to support the people in our community who do the work of the university.

It’s important to note that these steps are occurring in the face of a longer-term budget challenge we are facing as an institution, and that challenge is significant. As previously announced, we have taken a number of initial steps, including limits on hiring, pay and discretionary spending, to begin reining in our spending now. We expect additional, difficult steps will be needed in the coming months. We intend to make those decisions thoughtfully, in a way that supports our community to the greatest extent possible and that positions Stanford for an effective recovery from this downturn.

We are grateful to all of you in the Stanford community for your generosity of spirit, and for the many comments and suggestions that continue to inform our thinking. In this period of profound challenge, let us work to support one another with the immediate challenges before us, as we also work to secure a strong future for our university and its vital mission.


Persis Drell

Elizabeth Zacharias
Vice President for Human Resources