Managing the Financial Impact of COVID-19

April 1, 2020


We want to thank you again for all you are doing to support our students and the university’s mission while having your own lives disrupted. It is heartening to see everyone come together during this crisis. While our focus to date has been, appropriately, on the health and well-being of our students and employees as well as the transition to remote learning and work, we are also spending time looking at the near-and long-term financial impacts of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the university was in a strong financial position and we had identified some steps to take to build our financial strength for the long term with the help of Huron. That work will continue, though perhaps a little slower, as we navigate these uncharted and historic challenges and prepare for the future with little information on what the future looks like. There will be an impact; that is clear. The payments to our students across the University System of New Hampshire to refund housing, dining and some fees alone will top $30 million this fiscal year.

After consultation with the university system board of trustees, the chancellor and the presidents of the other USNH institutions, we write today to share some immediate steps we are taking to address our new fiscal reality. This list of spending directives will likely change in the coming weeks and months but will help us address the current environment while we determine future revenues and budgets.

Spending Directives Until Further Notice:

Travel: All business-related travel is prohibited until further notice. This includes travel that was approved and booked prior to this guidance. An application for essential travel or waiver of this directive is to be submitted to the appropriate vice president by the unit leader or department head seeking approval. Mileage reimbursement for local travel remains unchanged.

Hiring: A hiring freeze is in place with a strict waiver process until further notice. Any hiring must be approved by the appropriate vice president or designee. An application for waiver of this hiring freeze directive should be submitted to the appropriate vice president by the unit leader or department head seeking approval.
Purchasing Cards (p-cards): The majority of p-cards will be suspended until further notice. This will include, but not be limited to, all cards that have not been used within the current fiscal year (July 2019–March 2020) and all travel cards, with limited exceptions. Exceptions may be granted for cards used for research and any others deemed essential after review.

Contract and Purchasing review: Current contracts need to be reviewed to determine if there is any flexibility with existing commitments. USNH Procurement will provide guidance on new contracts to ensure our interests are protected to the greatest extent possible if a vendor is unable to perform or deliver a product or service or we need to cancel such product or service based on COVID-19.

  • As a result of COVID-19, if USNH no longer requires the same level of goods/services as originally committed via a contract or purchase order or if the contractor can no longer provide the level of service, those agreements should be reviewed and modified as soon as possible in accordance with the agreement. An initial list of contracts that should be reviewed should be provided to Procurement (Jesse Frink, contracts manager) and Procurement will coordinate a review of the contracts. This work has already begun but we ask that a more extensive list be provided to Procurement along with the revised need as soon as possible but no later than Friday, April 10.
  • The current contract delegations of authority are being reviewed; a recommendation to reduce current authority may be implemented. Reminder: individuals signing contracts on behalf of USNH should only do so with the express documented authority provided by USNH. Individuals who sign contracts on behalf of USNH without express authority could be held personally liable in accordance with USNH policy.
  • Currently posted bids will be reviewed for continued appropriateness.
  • Any future bids requested will require the advance approval of the VPFA/CFO or their designee.
  • Only purchase orders (PO) for good/services deemed to be essential should be processed until further notice. A review of current requisition/PO approval levels is underway, and the VPFA/CFO will adjust as deemed appropriate.

Capital Spending: All capital physical plant, property and equipment projects and purchases not currently in physical construction are suspended until further notice with the exception of projects that directly impact the health, safety or welfare of our students, staff, faculty or the community. Those projects must be approved by the president and the system treasurer before commencing. In the case of an emergency (fire, water leak etc.), measures should be taken to mitigate the damages and safety risks prior to requesting approval.

  • In the event a NON-life/safety/environmental project needs to begin, projects below $1 million at UNH shall be reviewed and approved by the president and the system treasurer. 
  • Projects totaling $1 million and above will require the approval of the board of trustees via the FY 21 capital budget submitted to and approved by the BOT’s financial affairs committee. If a NON-life/health/safety project exceeding the above threshold is not included in the approved capital budget, it will need approval by the financial affairs committee.  

Projects currently underway shall be reviewed based on the current delivery schedule, economic impact and value to the institution. Contractual suspension costs shall be considered as part of the project analysis and approval to continue must be authorized.

Thank you in advance for your adherence to these new policies.


James W. Dean, Jr.

Christopher Clement
Vice President for Administration

Wayne Jones

Catherine Provencher
Interim CFO