Tag Archives: telework

Childcare to reopen

Governor DeWine announced today that Ohio childcare centers are allowed to start reopening for the general public (not just emergency personnel) on Sunday, May 31. (Here’s an article from WLWT.)

CHILDCARE CAN OPEN ON MAY 31! WOOO!

Our childcare center is planning to reopen on June 1.

Now we just have to hope that we are high enough to the top of the list, based on how they are prioritizing things, that we will get one of the spots, since they can only have half as many children per toddler room now (6 instead of 12).

Fingers crossed.

Also, trying not to fret too much about how Dr. Amy and the governor keep saying, basically: We don’t know much about this yet and how it will go with childcare centers and spreading and so we look forward to getting more data on that soon (as childcare centers reopen).

Uh? Is it just me, or did that sound a little bit like our babies are lab rats?

I get it. They need a larger sample size. And I’m not one to suggest or support withholding data once it’s available – that’s how you improve things.

Just hoping that this doesn’t turn into a giant clusterfuck of death — you know, any more than it already is.

I know there’s a choice. There’s always a choice. But at the same time, there’s kinda not. It’s been pretty terrible working from home with a two-year-old (who, btw, doesn’t nap anymore).

Like you’re drowning, and they’re throwing you this inflatable life raft – FINALLY (but you understand why they took so long about it, because it wasn’t safe until maybe now) – but at the same time, they’re also kind of saying, “We’re not 100% sure this inflatable boat won’t take on a life of its own and suffocate your family and you’ll all still die, but you still want it, right?”

Yes. Yes, I do.

GIVE IT.

ohandifmybabydiesbecauseiwantedtokeepworkingilljustfeelguiltytherestofmylife

But it’s cool.

(Narrator: It wasn’t really cool, but what the hell else are they supposed to do?)

THANKS.

A Little News

Dr. Edwards hosted another video-chat open forum today. Although I have three pages of handwritten notes, here are the high points (low points? haha):

  • We’re probably not going to be working back on campus until July, if not August.
  • WSU filed the paperwork for that Shared Work Ohio thing, which is a special kind of unemployment service setup specifically for this crisis – and allegedly you can still claim it even if you volunteer to reduce your hours, which they (WSU) are hoping people will. They’re working on some written communications about this.
  • They are looking at EVERYTHING when thinking about where they might be able to cut. “Everything’s on the table,” she said.
  • Apparently, some of the other universities in the state were hoping that we’d go first with announcing our cuts, so they could basically use us as a shield for the media fallout – a sacrificial lamb to the press. Oh sure, let Wright State step out in front of the bus first; they’re used to it. They probably don’t even feel it anymore. To this, Dr. Edwards essentially said NO – because a number of other Ohio schools have already made their announcements and gone on the media chopping block – U. Dayton, U. Akron, Kent State, Ohio U., Miami U. – and we’re still taking our time, working things out (together, as she says).
  • And in that same vein, one of her closing encouragements: “If anyone can turn this place around, we can.”

Guys, I can’t even fucking cry about hardly anything right now (AND I SHOULD BE) – it’s so weird – but she almost brought me to tears twice today.

Can I just say how lucky we are to have a university president who’s so inspirational, compassionate, charismatic, and forthcoming?

**********

In another piece of my personal puzzle, we got another survey from our childcare provider, regarding their plan to hopefully reopen on June 1 (pending the governor’s announcement/approval/whatever) — and they finally gave us some FEE NUMBERS to work with. I knew it was going up; it was actually going to go up a little already even before the COVID thing happened. They hadn’t raised rates in years, apparently, and it was time. Fine, I get it, inflation and all that. They had not told us what those new rates were going to be. And now, it looks like they’ve probably had to raise them even a bit more, to cover smaller ratios of teacher-to-student, PPE, extra cleaning supplies, etc. Anyway.

The new monthly rate for Jack’s age group is $1,230.00 per month. That’s about $200 more than we were paying before. And our “old” rate included a $100 discount (for what, I forget), and they are not going to be applying any discounts initially, they said. So it will be the full $1,230.

OOF.

Well, it’s nice to at least have that number, finally, to plug into the mental “spreadsheet” of decision-making. (Hopefully soon I will have “the number” as to how much income I myself can expect to earn for the near/foreseeable future.)

The “mental spreadsheet” might have to be an ACTUAL spreadsheet at some point. I actually have one for calculating how much Emergency Fund we’d need in various scenarios – like if one or the other of us lost our job or if — GOD FORBID — we both did at the same time: how much we’d need for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc. Anyway, if the shit really hits the fan, some version of that sheet is going to get copy/pasted into a new “What the Hell Should We Do” spreadsheet.

But again, on the bright side, it will be nice to have all the damn pieces of the puzzle eventually. Right now it’s like playing a card game where half the deck is missing, and you don’t know which half. And I already hate card games.

In the meantime, here’s the kind of thing I’m dealing with while I’m watching Dr. Edwards’ video chats — and trying to do anything else (these pics are actually from Friday’s chat):

Cat wants to watch Dr. Edwards video-chat also, May 8, 2020

Cat wants to watch Dr. Edwards video-chat also, May 8, 2020

Toddler wants to watch cartoons in same room and also press all the buttons on the printer, during Dr. Edwards' video chat, May 8, 2020

Toddler wants to watch cartoons in same room and also press all the buttons on the printer, during Dr. Edwards’ video chat, May 8, 2020

God help us all.

OH! And there’s a GroundWorkOhio petition to Congress for childcare relief. Another working archivist mom sent it to me today, and you should all go do it! It just takes a minute.

Bit ‘o News

Another cell phone post, sorry.

We got a little bit of news from the head of our library today. I’m not really at liberty to discuss the details, but it was good to find out the status of things and what’s going on. Some decisions that need to be made will be made in the next couple of days, but it sounds like it could be longer than that before we actually hear how it affects each one of us individually.

Still no answers from Governor DeWine about childcare in today’s press conference. He’s not doing a conference tomorrow, but Dr. Acton mentioned that they will have something to say about it hopefully in the next couple of days, so hopefully that means Thursday. Fingers crossed.

University president Sue Edwards is having another one of her video chats tomorrow. I really enjoy those, even if a lot of what gets talked about is not good news in these times. I appreciate her candor and straightforwardness. And it’s pretty cool to have that instant face-to-face connection straight to the top. I even ask a question occasionally! But mostly I just listen to her answers to what other people ask. And once in a while, I post a link (in the group chat) to a trustworthy source of information about something that someone else has asked, because librarian.

No news today

Writing via voice recognition on my phone again, apologize in advance for any typos.

Well, Governor DeWine reneged on his promise to announce something about daycares today. Boooooo.

On the bright side, we can continue to live in the happy world of “maybe it will reopen for June 1st”! I probably shouldn’t hold my breath though.

I didn’t get any news today about the actual cuts the university plans to make to deal with the budget shortfall from now through June 30th, either.

But again on the bright side, I still have a full-time, paying job for the time being. Huzzah!

The university did make an announcement over the weekend that the campus would remain “essential personnel only” through the end of the governor’s current stay-at-home recommendation which expires on May 29th so I guess I’m staying home at least until then.

The same university announcement also stated that face masks would be required for everyone on campus (employees, students, visitors, etc.) for the foreseeable future. I consider this good news also. The masks are a good idea, and I was nervous when DeWine backpedaled on his mask order last week (was that last week? I’ve lost all sense of time) saying it was up to the individual businesses.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m off to try reading my book — which I just read in an article today is difficult for all of us right now because our brains are trying to solve and unsolvable problem. Good to know it’s not just me.

Is it RIF’ing yet?

Wright State’s President Edwards had another open forum via video-chat again this morning. She indicated that “reductions in force” are likely, with an announcement coming early next week. She specifically said they are not looking at “furloughs,” but it also sounded like the “reduction in force” would include some reductions in people’s hours that would hopefully only be temporary (to cover the $3-point-something million budget shortfall WSU has between now and June 30).

But…temporary…. Isn’t that…what a furlough is?

(I’ve been furloughed before, when I worked at Dayton Metro Library in the time after the housing market crash. We all worked 1 less day per pay period for a while, and our paychecks were reduced accordingly for that temporary period of time.)

I found this useful web page – What is the difference between a furlough, a layoff and a reduction in force? – from the Society of Human Resource Management. It seems to indicate that a true “reduction in force” is meant to be permanent.

But these are weird times. And I’m not criticizing the university president; she’s got a lot going on. And she plainly admitted she’s not an HR expert. Hagfish expert? Yes. HR expert, no. Haha.

So I’ll just…hold my breath and wait for that email to come out I guess.

In another twist of…whatever (irony? or perhaps nothing- we’ll wait and see), Governor DeWine promises us some sort of announcement about childcare in Monday’s press conference. I’m going to be super-pissed if this announcement is just “well, we’re still not sure, better wait a bit more.” Even if it’s something shitty like “we’re not opening until FOREVER, but here’s the date of FOREVER,” at least having a date will be helpful to know.

And again, I know, EVERYTHING IS WEIRD and changing every day. But it’s still…miserable…for working parents to keep working when there’s nobody available to take care of their child(ren), whether they are working from home or being asked to go (physically) back to work. Working from home with kid(s) is terrible. But I literally do not see how things are supposed to “work” if more and more people have to go (physically) back to their jobs but have no childcare options.

Not everybody has a retired grandma nearby. And even if they do, we’re all supposed to be staying AWAY from each other. And it’s even worse if the workers are going out every day into “public” and then coming back with whatever new germs (possibly COVID-19) for grandma.

So, yeah.

Current status:

  • Waiting to find if we’ll be getting childcare back anytime soon.
  • Wondering whether I’ll even need it when we do.
  • Hoping we can still afford it, if my pay goes down, because we already know that the price of our daycare is going up.

COVID-19 Diary: April 20-24, 2020

The saga continues.

Monday, April 20, 2020

That was the day we got that upsetting email from WSU President Edwards about the deans taking a 20% pay cut, budget not looking good, and halting all capital projects (our archives building! sad), etc. (I wrote about this on Apr 22 and Apr 23.)

Lisa and Jack working, Apr 20, 2020

Lisa and Jack working, Apr 20, 2020

Governor’s press conference announced 500 deaths so far in Ohio. There are protesters demanding the state reopen, but if we do now all our work is for nothing because cases will just sky-rocket as people gather. We need the ability to test more people, and there aren’t enough tests. My favorite protest sign is the “Give me liberty or give me death” (Patrick Henry): how about both, if you want everything reopened? Is a professional haircut or manicure really worth your life? Or your grandma’s?

The governor also announced that kids will not go back to K-12 school buildings this year, wasn’t sure yet about reopening daycares — which should be fun, if our workplaces reopen but not childcare centers? The fuck are we supposed to do? (I realize I’m fortunate that this I do not already have this problem, as many essential workers, like my grocery store clerks and gas station attendants and of course healthcare professionals, already do/might. There are special childcare centers just for essential workers, but I can’t imagine there’s enough of those right now either.)

Delicious homemade vegetable beef soup, Apr 20, 2020

Delicious homemade vegetable beef soup, Apr 20, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

I had another staff meeting in the morning via Webex. And this time, Jack “attended” the meeting with me, because Matt had to go (physically) to work for a while during that same time. This went better than I expected, as he mostly just watched TV, and I took my meeting on my university-borrowed laptop at the kitchen table where I could see him.

Matt’s trip to WPAFB was to renew his CAC card, which was expiring. (We later found out that they extended the expiration dates for everyone – similar to what the state did with driver’s licenses – so he really didn’t have to go after all, but that news came out like 1-2 days after he had already done it.) He said they had gloves, plexiglas shields, and some of the people there were in masks.

We got an email from our daycare with a survey in it. They asked things like how soon we’d like to come back (as soon as possible please!), how we felt about certain potential changes (e.g., being full-5-day-only for a while to limit the mixing of groups or raises in tuition prices to cover paying more teachers to accommodate smaller teacher-child ratios), and how we’re doing (I’ve definitely been better). They actually called again a week or two later to check on us as well.

We made homemade egg noodles again to go in stroganoff. We tried the pasta attachment for our Kitchen-Aid mixer, which we’ve had for like 10 years but never used. I think we must have done something wrong, because it all clumped together, and we ended up having…more like…egg noodle gnocchi as we pinched bits of it off and tossed in the boiling water to cook. It still tasted really good though!

homemade beef stroganoff with egg noodle gnocchi, Apr 21, 2020

homemade beef stroganoff with egg noodle gnocchi, Apr 21, 2020

I hit my 100-day streak on learning German in Duolingo. We’re slowly working our way through that Amazon Prime drama “Hunters” about Nazi hunters in the ’70s, and I’m overly pleased with myself when I can actually catch a word here and there.

One of my uncles is currently in a medical facility for some neck issues and numbness. Due to his age, he’s not a candidate for surgery. He’s also not allowed visitors due to COVID-19. So that’s sad. 😦

I did some more work after Jack went to bed, as usual…

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I honestly don’t have much at all to say about this day. Fighting a toddler in order to work is exhausting. I started trying to map out a big back-yard garden (hmm never did finish that).

I ordered some more mask fabric from my favorite fabric store – Fabric Shack in Waynesville. (Not because I ran out of fabric – that will likely never happen, with my stash, but because…I wanted more/different fabric. Also, small business!)

I wrote the first post about Dr. Edwards’ email “Recovery, Interrupted,” and apparently this post was extremely popular, receiving over 100 hits in the first 24 hours!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Again, not much to say about this day.

Wright State University Libraries staff members for National Library Workers' Day, posted to the library's social media Apr 23, 2020

Wright State University Libraries staff members (my co-workers) for National Library Workers’ Day, posted to the library’s social media Apr 23, 2020

Jack insisted on drinking water out of a small glass measuring cup, holding it by the handle like a coffee cup. Weirdo. Whatever, I’ll allow it. My standards are on a pretty serious slide these days. Is he likely to get hurt doing it? (How hurt…?) Is he likely to cause property damage doing it? (How much property damage…?) Yeah. The Me of two months ago would never believe I’ve now (as of this writing) stooped to letting him play Play-Doh on the floor of my office… Anyway.

We did finally get out the Kinetic Sand that he got for Easter, too. I’m extremely impressed with it. It really does stick only to itself (and not you) and doesn’t make a mess. As advertised! It has a weird…stretchy…consistency…but I really have no complaints! Would recommend.

Lisa and Jack, kinetic sand, Apr 23, 2020

Lisa and Jack, kinetic sand, Apr 23, 2020

I wrote the second post about Dr. Edwards’ email “Interruption Redux” – mainly because I spent so much time writing the back story on the first post that I didn’t have much time to dissect the actual email before it was really late, and I was really hungry. That one wasn’t quite as popular as the first post.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Emergency staff meeting to discuss emergency supply budget cuts and a few details about reopening – like do we want plexiglas shields? (Yes!) Where? (Everywhere! jk – but no seriously, both sides of our L-shaped desk.)

Later, we took a ride, and I got Matt to take me to Home Depot – I went in, and Jack and Matt waited in the truck – to buy “a few” plants. I had been getting nervous about whether places would have plants. I keep looking at the Burpee web site (you can actually order plants?!), and they always seem to be out of everything I want. Well, Home Depot had plenty of vegetable plants and seeds and everything else – so “I’ll be happy if I can just get a few tomato and zucchini plants this year” turned into “oops I spent $200 in the garden section.” (I probably could have gotten a little better price at Lowe’s, but Lowe’s had a line to get in due to the new social distancing/capacity limitations, and Home Depot did not.) I also noticed that there were not many people wearing masks in Home Depot; even some of the employees were not wearing them.

Flowers, vegetables, and herbs from Home Depot, Apr 24, 2020

Flowers, vegetables, and herbs from Home Depot, Apr 24, 2020

In happy-fun-time Toddler News, Jack has learned how to unlock and open the front door, so Matt installed some preventative measures on that. SIGH. On the bright side, our house sits back a bit from the road, and the street is not at all busy and ends in a cul-de-sac, so the odds of him actually getting hit by a car are low, I think? But more like, he’d just wander off and someone on the Nextdoor app would post a pic and be like, “Ey, did somebody lose a toddler?”

Once again, stayed up until midnight working in order to get shit done. Story of our lives these days.

Trying to work with cats, Apr 24, 2020

Trying to work with cats, Apr 24, 2020

cats asleep in cat beds

My two midnight “co-workers” sleeping on the job, Apr 24, 2020

**********

FUNNY STUFF (AND SOME NOT FUNNY) FROM AROUND THIS TIME

“Quarantine is a great time to get ahead on your research and writing,” say academics while thousands of people are dying. (Hey, I’m guilty too; been doing a lot of online professional development lately.)

“What Face Masks Say About a Person” comic

Tweet from @MatthewModine, Apr 21, 2020:

Tweet from @MatthewModine, Apr 21, 2020: “The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.”

Masks plus Social Distancing vs Coronavirus

Masks plus Social Distancing vs Coronavirus

Why wear a mask graphic

Why wear a mask graphic (no idea if those percentages are accurate or based on science, but the gist is valid as far as I understand things)

How do we exit the Groundhog Day loop?

How do we exit the Groundhog Day loop?

How I used to begin work emails vs. How I begin work emails now

How I used to begin work emails vs. How I begin work emails now: SO TRUE. I feel like a horrible callous person if I forget to include some version of “I hope you’re doing well” in my emails now.

Quarantine State of Mind

Quarantine State of Mind: did I post this already? Ah well it’s worth posting again!

Isolation Well-Being Checklist

Isolation Well-Being Checklist: A nice sentiment and probably good advice, and I would LOVE IT if I had even close to enough time to complete this list daily.

Coronabingo card

Coronabingo card: YASSSS another Coronavirus Bingo card, and I AM HERE FOR IT. (BTW I’ve done almost everything on this card, except bangs and TikTok.)

And finally, last but not least (I really should do a post solely in Hunger Games memes)…

Effie Trinket from Hunger Games: States opening back up like

Effie Trinket from Hunger Games: States opening back up like “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

THE END

So It Begins: Boom, Boom, Boom

It’s happening.

“So it begins” gif (Theoden from Lord of the Rings).

We’ve known for a while that things weren’t going to look good for university budgets and state funding.

We’ve known since last week some actual numbers (e.g., 20% cuts) to put with our otherwise fairly abstract budget-related dread.

At Wright State, we got an email last week from President Edwards with a little bit of what’s coming (or already happened) and a taste of what else to watch for.

And now, as we wait to hear what exactly will be the fallout at WSU, the articles are starting to roll out about what some other Ohio universities are planning to do (or already doing) about their budget reductions.

University of Dayton announced that they are furloughing about 450 people and laying off 60, among other measures. (I’m assuming this is staff, not faculty, because unions. It’s always the staff. Article says they employ about 1000 faculty and about 2175 staff, so these cuts are about 16% of total employees and I would guess a higher percentage than that from the pool of “staff.”)

Kent State University announced that they “will temporarily reduce salaries for employees who make more than $38,000 and who are not represented by a union” (soooo, staff, again, I’m assuming?). They are doing the salary reductions in a tiered structure, so those who make more have a higher percentage salary cut.

If, hypothetically, Wright State were to do the same using the same scale, I’d be in the 2% salary cut bracket, which would be about $1,000/year. Also note, WSU hasn’t been giving any cost-of-living increases for a few years now, and let’s not even talk about inflation. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, I am not considered faculty, am not tenured, or tenure-track, and am not in any union nor is there a union that I am eligible to be in. I know at some universities, archivists have faculty status or tenure or whatever, but that is not the case at WSU. On the bright side, I also don’t have to “publish or perish.” Just perish, haha.)

This more general article has info about University of Akron, Kent State, and also Urbana University, which announced last week that it is closing entirely.

Here’s a striking quote from the “more general article” above:

Bruce Johnson, the president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, an association of the state’s public universities, estimated Ohio’s 14 public universities will lose between $290 to $310 million from March to July. That includes about $171 million in refunds to students, mostly from room and board costs. Johnson added every public university is looking to trim budgets between 5 and 25%.

That explains what President Edwards meant by “the IUC” when she kept mentioning it in yesterday’s video-conference open forum. (The amount of stuff I probably don’t know about how higher education actually works — or, doesn’t work, sometimes, haha — is probably appalling.)

Yes, yesterday afternoon, I was proverbially “double-fisting” (and literally double-listening) on public informational broadcasts — listening to Q&A with our university president Dr. Edwards on my Chromebook with an earbud (sometimes two), while also trying to listen to the tail-end of the Q&A portion of Gov. DeWine’s press conference on the TV across the room.

Dr. Edwards won, most of the time, because there really is no such thing as multi-tasking, and the “speech” part of the governor’s production was over. He had already said his bit about what businesses/industries can open up starting in early May—-and neither higher education nor libraries were explicitly mentioned (whether to be allowed or disallowed in any of what he said).

So, of course the first question to Dr. Edwards in her session — which, I say proudly, came from one of my fellow library staff members (out of the 170+ people who ultimately logged on to the video-chat), to paraphrase (because these things are blessedly not recorded): So, how does the governor’s announcement today about things reopening affect us (WSU and specifically the library)?

Dr. Edwards said (essentially): “I don’t know yet.” (And I think she mentioned the IUC.)

Another question early on was about the university’s budget, had anything been decided yet, any new details?

Dr. Edwards said (again, paraphrase): No, we’re still working on it.

As much as I know that we all want to know these things — and she knows we want to know — and I’m sure SHE wants to know — I am absolutely not criticizing these responses. Quite the opposite: I can definitely respect someone who will just tell me when they don’t know the answer to my question. Nobody wants to be bull-shitted, especially not right now.

So we’ll wait. We’ll just wait.

The university Board of Trustees has some meetings at the end of this week: a “Committee Day” on Thursday and an Executive Session and a Public Session on Friday. I see a LOT of financially oriented documents on the Committee Day page, so…maybe we’ll hear something shortly after these meetings?

Not that I’m super excited to get what I’m certain will be bad news for at least somebody (probably many somebodies, probably including me). But it’s good to know what you’re dealing with, you know? The suspense is killer.

You run over a million different scenarios in your head, and you start trying to fashion your contingency plans, and you waste a lot of energy on “what if’s.” And it’s like, Try to calm down and don’t start freaking out until you know something. But then it’s like, I do know something! I know something bad is coming! …I just don’t know what yet.

“Loosen your corset, have a drink.” (Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in Hunger Games)

BTW, I don’t really drink, but I’ve definitely thought about it lately!

Also, it is disturbing how many Hunger Games references, memes, and gifs I have seen used in relation to this whole Coronavirus/COVID-19 thing — and they are SPOT ON — and, you know, that was a pretty F’d up society. (Maybe I should write a whole post just with Hunger Games gifs…hmm.)

On that note, let’s get off this train…after just the one last explanation of the second part of my title:

As I watch these universities “dropping like flies,” or more like, dropping the bomb(s) on their communities about what is going to happen next to make up for the budget shortfalls— it reminded me of a scene from a movie I’ve seen many times: Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) (loved the movie, hated the book). So  (in the movie) this American lady buys an old farmhouse in Italy on a whim, and she hires local contractors to help her fix it up. So one of the guys is trying to convey to her (in Italian, which she doesn’t really speak much of- and he doesn’t know English) that if they take this particular wall out, the whole place is gonna come crashing down. And, making a sort of dropping/banging gesture with his hands, he exclaims, “Boom! Boom! Boom!”

And that’s what things feel like right now. That’s all the shoes dropping (not just the “other shoe”).

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.

So, yeah.

Good luck, everybody!

May the odds be ever in your favor!

COVID-19 Diary: April 13-17, 2020

Back to your regularly scheduled day-by-day. I made a goal for this week to try to get “caught up” here on WordPress, but you remember what I said about having purchased a goal planner for the first time, for the year 2020…

Monday, April 13, 2020

In today’s press conference, Dr. Acton said that masks are likely to be a thing for a year or so. (I better make more.) Governor DeWine compared the virus to a monster lurking outside, waiting to pick people off – an excellent analogy, really paints a picture.

Speaking of painting a picture, I took Jack outside at one point, at his request. He doesn’t seem to “get” that it’s not fun for us to be outside when it’s cloudy, windy, wet, and cold (40 degrees). I didn’t last long. I bribed him with an art project, to get him to come inside. We tried out his watercolors from the Easter bunny. I think he liked it, even if he didn’t entirely “get” how they work.

At least I didn’t bribe him with chocolate (this time). At one point on this day, he got into the pantry cabinet in the basement (having escaped from Matt’s office, which is in the basement), found a 4-pound bag of granulated sugar, and proceeded to carry the bag upstairs to me, then declaring, “I want sugar.” Same, buddy. (How did he know that was a bag of sugar?!) No joke. (I did not give him the sugar; I took the bag away before he could open it and dump it everywhere.)

My supervisor Dawne has been interviewed by a number of media outlets about the COVID-19 diary project. Among these were two different reporters from the New York Times. The first of these articles came out today: “Why You Should Keep a Coronavirus Diary” by Jen A. Miller. The second one came out two days later: “What Historians Will See When They Look Back on the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020” by Audra Birch.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

We had a staff meeting in the morning. I “arrived” at the video-conference wearing one of my masks, and everyone laughed (the desired effect).

I watched Gov. DeWine’s press conference on my Kindle Fire while working.

Watching Gov. DeWine on Kindle while working on my work computer, Apr. 14, 2020

Watching Gov. DeWine on Kindle while working on my work computer, Apr. 14, 2020

I purchased four Society of American Archivists webinars using a 20% sale coupon they have going. A lot of organizations are offering reduced rate or free access to their online training materials or publications during this time. They know everybody (OK well archivists and librarians- that is what I know about) is looking for useful things they can do from home, and boning up on professional development stuff via webinar is definitely a good option when you can’t get to your (physical) collections. I needed two more online courses for my Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) certification renewal, which is due this summer, and I bought the other two because they looked interesting and were “on sale.”

My brother-in-law Jerry asked me (via text) if I’m making masks. He said he’s been wearing one of the N95 masks (that I assume he already had just lying around the house- because you can’t find them in stores right now), but he feels guilty about it (since they’ve been saying to donate those for healthcare workers) – so I made 9 masks for their family: 2 regular ones each for Jerry, Gina, and the two kids, and a special “extra” Chicago Cubs mask for Jerry. (I still had fabric from when I made him pillow cases a few years ago.) I even modified the instructions to make the kids’ masks a little smaller. (These are from the Crafty Daily video/design.)

Masks for Gina and Jerry & the kids, Apr. 14, 2020

Masks for Gina and Jerry & the kids, Apr. 14, 2020

I took the masks straight to the post office at like 10:30 p.m. after I finished them; they arrived Thursday, and they love them. 🙂

Jack is driving us nuts. We’re probably driving him nuts, too. We’re all driving EACH OTHER nuts.

Dory from Finding Nemo:

Dory from Finding Nemo: “Oh look! Mom’s last nerve! I wanna touch it…”

Belle from Beauty and the Beast:

Belle from Beauty and the Beast: “I want much more than this pandemic life!” (Are there so many B&B memes about the pandemic because she was also cooped up for so long?)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

This was supposed to be Tax Day, but they extended the deadline for state and federal income tax returns into the summer. I had already submitted our taxes in February, I think, so no problem for us either way.

We got our federal stimulus money today (2 adults x $1200 plus 1 child x $500 = $2900). It was direct-deposited, and I popped it straight over into our Emergency Fund savings account. I guess it’s supposed to stimulate the economy, but things are so unpredictable right now, so we’re sitting on it for now.

I created a Zoom video-conferencing account and learned how to do it. I had heard that you could do a custom “virtual” background using any image, and I wanted to know what dimensions were best, how it worked, how it looked, so I could theoretically make some background images using photos from work (as an outreach freebie downloadable). I did make a few backgrounds, but the idea sort of got buried under other more important things.

Experimenting with a Zoom virtual background I created from the Wright Brothers Collection, Apr. 15, 2020

Experimenting with a Zoom virtual background I created from the Wright Brothers Collection, Apr. 15, 2020

In the evening I watched a (free) webinar about something I have literally been wanting to learn how to do for like 3 years. This is the kind of thing that you never feel like you can justify actually taking the time to do because there’s so much other legitimately more important stuff you could/should be doing with your time. Well, most of that stuff is in boxes on the shelves at work right now, and I am not one of the few people currently authorized to spend time in the library building right now, so…as I said…now’s a good time for learning new things and making an investment in your own professional development.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

It was very hard to concentrate on this day. I don’t know why, exactly. I think I read something recently that this is a “thing”: about having a few good days in a row, like thinking you’ve finally got your shit together for the way life is right now, and then suddenly you just…don’t…again. Oh, hey, here’s the thing I was thinking of:

Quarantine State of Mind: Good Days vs. Hell Zone

Quarantine State of Mind: Good Days vs. Hell Zone

The more I hear about….everything…okay, mostly, major outbreaks of the virus in food processing plants (especially meat for some reason?)…the closer I get to the “edge” when it comes to…like…living off the land, being self-sustaining. OK, let’s be real, we’re never going to do that. Unless society completely breaks down. Which it could. (These are not the right thoughts for 10:30 at night, as it is now, but…alas. This is the rabbit hole down which we tumble…)

In the past few weeks, things I have joked about (OK I am like 94% joking about these things) include:

  • Getting chickens – eggs! delicious meat! (ok yeah I’d need a LOT of chickens)
  • Getting a goat (ok that was mostly for munching the grass but also- milk!)
  • Whether the farmer whose cow pasture butts up to the property two houses down would notice if one of his cows mysteriously went missing- does he really know how many cows he has? (OK I am 100% joking on that one, I am not going to steal my neighbor’s cow- but I only mention it so you can see how weird things are getting.)
  • Whether we would need to make our fire pit bigger or smaller in order to effectively use it to cook food (for, you know, when society collapses – course if I don’t have chickens or cows, not sure what I’m going to cook over that open flame anyway).
  • Planting vegetables in all the flower beds instead of flowers. (Honestly, I’d rather have vegetable plants anyway.)

Which brings us to a thing that really DID happen.

We bought a greenhouse. Yep. It’s a Palram 6-foot-by-8-foot metal-and-plexiglas “hobby greenhouse”, with 7-foot ceiling, cost about $500 on Amazon, should arrive in a couple of days from now (like Apr. 28th). I was getting paranoid about being able to find plants for my “victory garden” by the time the last frost comes (early May is when we plant here in Zone 6) – so I thought maybe we can get things earlier if we have a safe place to keep them “frost-free”? (Well, spoiler alert, it’s still not here yet, and I bought vegetable plants this past Friday, April 24, but the greenhouse will still be good for things like strawberries I would think, and it will keep the bunnies off them. Also, I can start seeds in it – next year, if not this year – and the cat won’t eat the tiny plants! Yes, I have two cats, but only one of them is the problem – he won’t suffer a house plant to live.)

My sister Sara asked if I would make some cloth masks for her and her husband Chase. They are both medical professionals, and they have the good masks at work, but she wanted some cloth ones for them to wear on errands like the grocery store. I started those (also Crafty Daily’s) on Thursday night and finished them the next day. I made them four each because I figured out a very efficient way to fold the fabric to cut 4 masks at once with little waste. I also made a couple of little cardboard templates to help measuring and marking go faster.

His & Hers masks for Chase & Sara, Apr. 17, 2020

His & Hers masks for Chase & Sara, Apr. 17, 2020

Made a couple of templates to mark the mask measurements more quickly

Made a couple of templates to mark the mask measurements more quickly

Friday, April 17, 2020

I had a bunch of weird dreams Thursday night. One was about going to the grocery store, and then Matt showed up at the grocery store, too, and I’m like, “Where’s Jack?” Like, I know he’s not here with you because (a) I don’t see him and (b) we’re not even really supposed to go to the store any more than we can help it and we are for damn sure not supposed to be bringing kids with us to the store – so only one of us can really run errands at a time, awesome. He said he left Jack with a relative, and it was not someone that I would have expected him to have baby-sit our child (not to mention that none of our relatives live nearby). But on the bright side, we were able to get toilet paper in the dream!

Another weird Thursday night dream involved breaking up with my high school boyfriend. Again. Perhaps it was a riff on this whole Groundhog Day merry-go-round we’re all on right now? Deja vu and all that?

COVID-19 Groundhog Day

COVID-19 Groundhog Day

One of the weird dreams I had on Friday night involved learning to fly a helicopter. I’m pretty sure the helicopter tried to crash…for reasons that I’m pretty sure weren’t my fault. Just bad luck, I guess.

**********

A few more random things I saw on Facebook and saved because they spoke to me.

“You do not need to thrive right now. You don’t need to use this time wisely. It is ok to just survive it.” (I mean, we gotta work from home…and keep a toddler alive…oh, and ourselves. But other than that, sure, yeah.)

This infographic of tips for mental health was shared by my same friend who shared the thing I posted previously about how you feel like you’re doing a shitty job at parenting AND work because nobody should have to be doing all of those things at once. Anyway, here it is:

Mental Health tips infographic

Mental Health tips infographic

I especially like the overthinking one. I HAVE TO read some, in bed, before I try to fall asleep. Even if it’s 2 a.m. (and sometimes, lately, it has been) and I’m dead tired (obviously, it’s 2 a.m.), I HAVE TO read for at least a few minutes to…take my mind somewhere else, SOMEWHERE ELSE, that is not here, this, the pandemic, my job, my kid, my parents, my community…it’s just…somewhere else, something else, a distraction…so my mind can click “off” and fall asleep.

Interruption Redux

So, recounting the saga of Wright State in the 2010’s and finding all the links for those (citations needed) on the previous entry…took longer than I expected, and I was out of steam (midnight snack time!) by the time I finally got to the end part with Dr. Edwards’ email.

I had thoughts. (Obviously.) A lot of thoughts. (Of course, it’s me.) So here are some snippets I’ve clipped out of Dr. Edwards email (marked by boldface and italics) and then some of my relevant thoughts (ok mostly worries).

(Note that I will be reprinting the majority of the email but not the entirety; for entirety see previous entry. I will maintain the original order of the statements, however.)

**********

Wright State has been through a number of tough years and resilience remains the key to our success.

We get knocked down, but we get up again!
(Welcome to 1997, thanks, Chumbawumba.)
Lead with a joke, they said. It’ll be great, they said. –crickets– OK, now for the anxious and/or ugly.

In the short term, the State of Ohio has informed us to plan for a significant reduction in what is remaining of this year’s State Share of Instruction. In addition, refunds and/or credits due to students exceed $3 million and summer enrollment has been negatively impacted, resulting in a decrease of 17 percent.

Earlier this month, the university developed and announced a plan for refunds to students for certain fees and services they are not getting because they had to move off-campus mid-semester — mainly housing, meal plans, and parking permits and pro-rated to the time that students were required to stop physically coming to class or stop living on campus. I was extremely impressed with the thoroughness and (in my opinion) fairness of the procedures decided upon (which are detailed in that linked article above). Students totally deserve to be getting reimbursed for goods and services they are not getting. But, OUCH, $3 million in refunds.

And OUCH, 17% drop in summer enrollment. I’m not sure if that’s a drop in what was “projected” or an actual, literal “drop” (like people dropping courses they already enrolled for?), but…declining enrollment is never good.

We’ve already taken and informed you of a number of steps to reduce expenses in the short term by instituting a hiring freeze on all non-approved external hires and significantly curbing expenditures in numerous areas.

Yeah…so remember that bit where I said my supervisor Dawne is retiring soon? We were all so glad when the Hiring Board approved re-filling the position and the job posting went up online the first week of March. The position job posting can still technically be found on the university’s jobs web site, but now it has a big ugly “POSTPONED” with it. BIG SAD FACE. 😦

Today I am announcing the following additional measures that are being put in place:
• University leadership (President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans) has voluntarily agreed to take a 20 percent reduction in salary.

Wow to the university leadership taking a 20% pay cut. I wonder how truly “voluntary” it all was, not because I have bad things to say about these folks. (I couldn’t even name most of them for you.) But that’s a pretty hefty pay cut, so I kind of wonder if a bit of healthy peer pressure was involved to get all of them to agree to it “voluntarily.” Or maybe they all totally did; no idea. I’m just spitballin’ here.

Omigod…. Okay, so I just (literally just this minute mid-writing-this-entry) looked up the names of some of our deans. (I know, I’m terrible. I should probably know more of these folks’ names.) And then I looked them up on the Buckeye Institute web site, where you can get salary information for a variety of public employees, including search salaries for employees of Ohio’s public universities (with available data currently for 2011-2018):

  • Brian Rigling, Dean of the College of Engineering: $219,000 in 2018. (20% = $43,800)
  • Linda Caron, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts: $186,000 in 2018. (20% = $37,200)

Holy shit.

(Also, while I’m in this database, I looked up everyone over $100k and then sorted the list highest to lowest. And…why the fuck is our basketball coach the top-paid employee, at $546,000? And he still makes over $500k as of this Feb. 2020 article from Dayton Daily News. You know what? I don’t want any explanation of “why” because it will just piss me off. Because sports worship. I digress…)

And I can tell you, the Buckeye Institute database appears to contain accurate and reliable data, because I looked up myself, and my numbers appear accurate to the best of my recollection. (Mom, don’t panic when you see the massive drop in my salary for the year 2018 – remember, I had that medical thing, and I took it unpaid; I didn’t get demoted!)

Anyway, back to the list of “additional measures”…

• Hold on all non-critical university-funded capital projects.

Shit, shit, SHIT.

I assume that puts the kibosh on our archives building project. We were pretty close to starting to really seriously think about probably starting to actually swing the first proverbial hammer on the remodeling project to transform the space into an archive.

The building is at 2455 Presidential Drive, the old Wright-Patt Credit Union headquarters, which is just on the other side of Col. Glenn Highway from main campus. The university already owns it (for several years now) and has some offices in parts of it. They currently use “our” part, which is just a big open space right now, for big events – most notably televised Board meetings and sometimes banquets.

We had already cooled off on fundraising for it when COVID-19 ramped up. More important things going on, you know? We know. It’s hard to ask folks to donate money for a project like ours at the same time that food banks even more desperately need food and folks are suddenly becoming unemployed left and right. There are more important human-life-sustaining services that need donations right at this moment. We get it.

But it still doesn’t make it easy to swallow having the brakes thrown on this project (again). As the collections manager, one of my duties is to keep track of what’s where and how much “where” we have left. And let me tell you, there’s not a lot. I’m tracking it down to 0.25 linear-foot increments. We are running out of space, by the day, it seems like. (OK not THIS day or the last 35 or so because I can’t exactly accept new boxes while working from home, but…) Before we left, I was in the process of shifting (again): any shelf containing multiple 1-Hollinger-box accessions or collections was on the list to potentially be moved elsewhere, to nooks and crannies that are only big enough for 1 Hollinger box (the little gray boxes- about 0.5 linear foot), to open up spaces large enough for record center boxes (the big white boxes – 1 linear foot). accessions that consisted of single Hollinger boxes (about 0.5 linear foot) into 0.5-foot spaces. Sorry, that’s a lot of shop talk that won’t make much sense to non-archivists, maybe, but suffice it to say, EVERY DAY I’M SHUFFLIN’. And it’s exhausting (both mentally and physically). And inefficient.

Between the likelihood of not being able to replace Dawne (and thus dropping us to 4 archivists) and the likelihood of putting a halt on the new building project, I almost cried when I read this email. I really did. I hadn’t cried about anything yet — maybe I’m numb, maybe I’m broken, maybe I’m dead inside, I don’t know — but that was the closest I had come thus far. (I actually did shed a few tears today, hence the use of past perfect tense, but that’s a different story altogether.)

• Freeze on all new contractual agreements for goods and services.
• Elimination of all discretionary non-compensation spending.
• Moving campus facilities into a low energy usage mode where possible.
• Freezing all university-issued ProCards.

Welp.
There goes buying stuff.
Not that we were buying tons of stuff as it was.
But it was nice to have the option.

To date, Wright State has been committed to maintaining all personnel and positions. The State of Ohio has indicated they will release a plan addressing the return to work for Ohio businesses this week. We will review the plan and its impact on university operations in order to determine future staffing plans, which may include reductions in force.

Reductions in force. The University Librarian (head of the university libraries), as well as our supervisors, have asked if anybody is interested in reducing their hours.

Hours? Yes.
Pay? No.
Haha. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I know it’s not a laughing matter, but…laughing helps us keep from crying, right?

I don’t even have all the data I would need to make that kind of decision right now. I know, there’s a TON of stuff that we all don’t know. Will we EVER get to go back to work? When? Under what circumstances? (What has to happen in order for us to be allowed back into our offices? I MISS THE COLLECTIONS!) Under what conditions? (What will it be like when we return? What will we be expected to do or not do? Will we be safe? I mean, I know they’ll try to keep us safe, but…will it actually BE safe?)

But back to that data thing. Yeah, so, daycare. When the hell are they going to reopen those? (I know, I know, it’s not safe. Just like it wasn’t safe for us to stay on campus.) We got a survey from our daycare provider a couple days ago – the same day as this email from Dr. Edwards, in fact. They were gathering feedback about possible options for when they reopen. They had already been planning to raise fees in June. We had known that for months — but not the actual RATES. But one of the things in the survey was that they might have to assess an extra “COVID-19 Surcharge” if they have to have lower ratios of teachers to students, which would mean hiring more teachers. Okay, that makes sense. I get it. I don’t like it. Nobody likes increased fees, but I totally get it. But we don’t know what that’s going to be or if they’ll do it or, or, or…

How are we supposed to make any decisions about anything when we are still stumbling around in the dark on so many fronts?

While we’ve made recent investments in marketing, recruitment, and retention, our fall enrollment is anticipated to be down once again. I share this with you in the context that our local competition is now increasing even more. Other local universities that traditionally recruited more out of state and international students understand that those two customer segments will be severely impacted because of COVID-19. As a result, they are redirecting their recruitment efforts to the local direct from high school, transfer, and unemployed sectors. Said another way, we are now seeing a heightened competition for the typical Raider Country student.

Down, down, down goes the enrollment. And with it, the revenue. Oh god. It just keeps getting worse.

Hey, I try to talk up Wright State to people if I see an opportunity. I even managed to put in a plug for it with the Meijer cashier on my excursion Sunday. (I asked if I could take her picture for my archiving project, and she said okay, and seemed interested in archiving. “You know, we have a program for it at Wright State…”)

And I’m not trying to disparage the university here. Even when I do have a beef, I try not to rant about it publicly. I like to think I’m very careful about that. I’m not stupid; I know about Googling job candidates. Not that I’m planning to leave. (I’m a two-time graduate of Wright State. Suffice it to say, I feel at home there.) But it’s clearly not out of the realm of possibility that I might be forced to leave at some point for reasons beyond my control. I think we’re ALL having those thoughts right now. Everywhere. Not just Wright State, but across higher education. The whole system is absolutely crashing.

But anyway, back to the “heightened competition in Raider Country.” Yes, I’ve had this confirmed by some folks I know with ties to University of Dayton (for instance- I’m sure they’re not the only ones). I mean, it makes sense – why “go away” for college if you might not really be able to “go away”? If colleges are still all-online for Fall, why go there? Why pay a bunch of money to huddle up in an apartment alone in a strange town, when you could have saved a bunch of money (or your parents maybe could have) by staying home and going to a fancy private university that’s actually nearby (again, if classes are all going to be online and you can’t live on-campus and get that experience anyway). I don’t know. Again, that’s just kind of the rationale that went through my mind. Or maybe it’s far simpler than that, and it’s literally just, Every single university is hurting for students these days, and it’s time to start courting absolutely everyone. I don’t know.

In the longer term, the State of Ohio has informed all public universities to plan for a 20 percent reduction in the upcoming year’s State Share of Instruction allocation. For Wright State that would translate into a revenue loss of nearly $20 million.

Departments submitted proposed FY21 budgets shortly we all got sent home in mid-March. Now they’re all being asked to chop another 20% off of their original submissions. Again, our University Librarian (bless her) has asked us for our input and any ideas we might have about cutting costs further. Jesus Christ, I don’t know what else we could chop. (Meanwhile, the cost of everything keeps going up; as I understand it, the prices for various library databases tend to blow up like balloons almost every year.) As for staff…when I started working at WSU in 2012, there were like 60-something employees in the University Libraries. Now we are down to…looks like…45 according to our staff page. (That’s actually more than I thought – a bit of good news!)

Anyway, we had to submit any ideas by this afternoon, and the library has to submit its revised proposal by tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

I apologize, as I know this situation creates anxiety, and as I have mentioned in all of my Webex sessions, I do not give you this information to create fear. I am committed to being as transparent as possible and to bring you clarity as soon as we can. 

Yes, Dr. Edwards has twice-a-week “open” video-conferencing sessions. Anyone can pop in and ask questions or just listen. I went to the one on Tuesday and just listened to what was going on (while trying to listen to the governor’s press conference out of my other ear because they were at the same time). Dr. Edwards also does these periodically on-campus as well. I went to one of them once, and she jokingly invited us to “Stump the Chump.” Hilarious. Have I mentioned we love her?

I really appreciate her efforts to give us as much information as she reasonably can, when there’s so much that’s still so uncertain. It’s oddly comforting.

**********

Well, that’s more than enough out of me on this one. I’m sure there are “thoughts” that I didn’t even manage to put into words here. Maybe some of them I can’t even put into words right now. I don’t know.

To quote Mrs. Figg: The whole world’s gone topsy-turvy.

Recovery, Interrupted

We interrupt this chronological recounting for some “breaking news.” OK, it’s not really breaking news. Or it shouldn’t be. This should not be a surprise. But it’s still disheartening to see it in print.

See, a little background. The university where I work — Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio — has had a rough 5 or 6 years.

First, there was that whole H-1B visa scandal that hit the fan in 2015.

Then, in the spring of 2016, it came to light, rather suddenly, that the university was in serious financial distress, due to (as I understand it) very poor financial decisions at high levels. That was a bad spring; we lost two of the six full-time archivists in our department — due to voluntarily separation to take other jobs — but we were only permitted to replace one of them, bringing us down to 5 professional staff (including the department supervisor). We are still at 5 staff currently, and our department head is retiring in about 6 weeks.

We were not surprised when, shortly thereafter, the university president David Hopkins announced his retirement would be in June 2017. However, we were surprised (or at least I think we were- I know I was!) when he very suddenly resigned 3 months earlier than planned with almost no advance notice (at least none that most of us knew about). (In a bizarre and total coincidence, the date of the news article linked in the previous sentence is dated March 17, 2017, which is precisely 3 years to the day before the first day that we all started working from home for this current crisis.)

Around that same time (March 2017), Cheryl Schrader was announced as the next university president. She was our first female university president, so that’s pretty cool. Wait, was? Oh, right. Yeah, Dr. Schrader already retired too, in Dec. 2019 — also rather abruptly (it was announced in October).

It might have had something to do with all the bad blood that got brewed up during the three-week faculty strike, which kicked off for Spring 2019 semester, and made national news and may have been Ohio’s longest faculty strike in history. (That was my first semester teaching a full course by myself as an adjunct instructor — not part of the union and not part of the strike — it was all very awkward. Yippee!) A contract signed in Feb 2019 should get us through to June 2023 (fingers crossed!). As you might imagine, the strike did not exactly do wonders for student enrollment and retention.

But hey, it wasn’t all bad news in 2019. Things were really starting to look “up” in the money department. Over two years, we had dug ourselves out of the proverbial “hole.” We managed to avoid being put on fiscal watch by the state and even doubled cash reserves.

More good news in 2019: Our existing provost, Dr. Susan Edwards, became our new university president. AND WE LOVE HER. And even more good news: she won her battle with breast cancer before the year was out!

We were ALL on the road to recovery! Go Raiders!

Things were even starting to look really imminent for our new archives building that we have been fundraising for. Which is good, because our current space is getting tighter by the minute, it seems like.

And then.

And…then…

First it was just like a little bit of staticky background fuzz of another weird disease outbreak happening somewhere else in the world, around Christmas.

I’m thinking (maybe we’re all thinking?): What’s this coronavirus thing? COVID-19? Are those the same? What’s with the two terms? China’s far away. It’s probably like that SARS thing from a long time ago, where everybody got all bent out of shape about it for like a little while, and then nothing really happened here. We’re fine. This is fine. It’ll probably be like that.

And then, the buzzing got louder. We all panicked just a little bit in, what? early February, when they tested a couple of students at nearby Miami University for COVID-19. Their results came back negative, and we all relaxed. But still…

Then, things all seemed to ramp up very quickly in March. I already wrote about all that. And then on March 17, suddenly, we’re all working from home.

And a month later, we’re all still working from home.

We’re watching Governor Mike DeWine’s press conference every day at 2.

We’re listening to Dr. Amy Acton tell us how much the numbers went up.

We’re watching Lt. Governor Jon Husted attempt to answer yet another question about why people still can’t get their unemployment requests submitted, as the web site is choking on the massive volume of traffic it is receiving right now.

We’re hearing from our leaders and from the news about how bad this disease has been, not just for human health, but for the nation’s economy.

Just today in the press conference, Husted was saying how some modelers are predicting that unemployment rates could go up as high as 20%, which sorta makes Ohio’s unemployment rate of 10.9% during the Great Recession of 2009 practically adorable by comparison.

Shit is crashing and crumbling all around us.

And I think on some level, even a conscious level, I knew that the shoes (yeah not just “the other shoe” but allllll the shoes) would drop soon at the university as well.

But it was still soul-crushing to receive this email on April 20th from President Edwards.

Dear Wright State Community,
First and foremost, THANK YOU for everything all of you are doing for our students as we navigate these uncertain times! This is a difficult situation for all of us, for our families and communities, and for Wright State University. Wright State has been through a number of tough years and resilience remains the key to our success.
I am writing today to update the campus community on our continuing efforts around addressing the economic impacts of the current pandemic.
In the short term, the State of Ohio has informed us to plan for a significant reduction in what is remaining of this year’s State Share of Instruction. In addition, refunds and/or credits due to students exceed $3 million and summer enrollment has been negatively impacted, resulting in a decrease of 17 percent.
We’ve already taken and informed you of a number of steps to reduce expenses in the short term by instituting a hiring freeze on all non-approved external hires and significantly curbing expenditures in numerous areas. Today I am announcing the following additional measures that are being put in place:
• University leadership (President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans) has voluntarily agreed to take a 20 percent reduction in salary.
• Hold on all non-critical university-funded capital projects.
• Freeze on all new contractual agreements for goods and services.
• Elimination of all discretionary non-compensation spending.
• Moving campus facilities into a low energy usage mode where possible.
• Freezing all university-issued ProCards.
To date, Wright State has been committed to maintaining all personnel and positions. The State of Ohio has indicated they will release a plan addressing the return to work for Ohio businesses this week. We will review the plan and its impact on university operations in order to determine future staffing plans, which may include reductions in force. It may be necessary for us to utilize Governor DeWine’s Executive Order that expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period and utilize the provisions of the federal CARES Act that provide additional unemployment benefits.
As we look to next year the financial uncertainties presented by COVID-19 circumstances have exacerbated the existing financial challenges faced by Wright State. We must prepare for the economic impact of the pandemic on our students and their families and the university.
While we’ve made recent investments in marketing, recruitment, and retention, our fall enrollment is anticipated to be down once again. I share this with you in the context that our local competition is now increasing even more. Other local universities that traditionally recruited more out of state and international students understand that those two customer segments will be severely impacted because of COVID-19. As a result, they are redirecting their recruitment efforts to the local direct from high school, transfer, and unemployed sectors. Said another way, we are now seeing a heightened competition for the typical Raider Country student.
In the longer term, the State of Ohio has informed all public universities to plan for a 20 percent reduction in the upcoming year’s State Share of Instruction allocation. For Wright State that would translate into a revenue loss of nearly $20 million.
I apologize, as I know this situation creates anxiety, and as I have mentioned in all of my Webex sessions, I do not give you this information to create fear. I am committed to being as transparent as possible and to bring you clarity as soon as we can. We will work closely with the President’s Cabinet, the President’s Council, the Council of Deans, the Faculty Senate, and the Board of Trustees Finance Committee. I will keep the campus community updated as we develop strategies to address these very real financial challenges.
Best wishes,
Sue

(God bless her honesty and transparency. And we still love her; none of this is her fault. It all just sucks. SUCKS. And I don’t feel too weird sharing this now, since it’s already hit the news.)

Well, so much for Wright State’s recovery.

Although, it’s not just us.

Strangely, though, on the bright side (see, there I go trying to end on a high note again), at least this time it’s nothing we did.