Positive financial outlook allows full restoration of retirement benefits and new COVID supports

April 2, 2021

Dear Johns Hopkins Community,

We are writing today to share continued good news about our financial performance and the steps we will take to share the benefits of this performance with our faculty, staff, and students.

Specifically, we are pleased to inform you that the university will fully restore the university’s contributions to faculty and staff retirement accounts for the entire fiscal year. Further, following close consultation with several colleagues, including members of the University Pandemic Academic Advisory Committee, we have established several new funding supports and opportunities for faculty and PhD students whose research and scholarship have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. These supports include bridge funding, accelerator grants, and dissertation completion awards.

More details will be coming soon via email, but we provide here a brief overview of these actions.

Full Restoration of Employer Retirement Contributions

2021 employer retirement contributions will be fully restored, covering not only the period from January through June 2021 (as announced in February) but also the period of July through December 2020.

You will recall that the suspension of these retirement contributions was a critical component of the financial austerity measures we put in place last year as a result of the unprecedented and unpredictable financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as part of our commitment to stabilize the university’s financial situation and reduce to the greatest extent possible the need for staff layoffs and furloughs. At the time that we made this decision, we committed to restoring these important benefits if we prudently could. We are truly delighted that the university’s board of trustees has accepted our recommendation that we do so.

The Human Resources Office will follow up with additional details about how and when those additional payments will be made. In addition, the university’s financial team will hold a town hall meeting this spring to share more information about our financial picture, including how the pandemic continues to impact our revenues and expenses. In the meantime, financial FAQ are posted at covidinfo.jhu.edu with more information on these plans, along with our past and current COVID financial reporting.

New Support Programs for Faculty

To ameliorate the serious disruption caused by the pandemic to some colleagues’ research, the university and our divisions have jointly created a new, dedicated fund of $10 million that will be earmarked for several key initiatives:  

  • JHU Covid-19 Bridge Grants, which are focused on the STEM disciplines, will provide short-term support to sustain research programs of faculty members who are facing a gap in sponsored funding. 
  • JHU COVID-19 Research Accelerator Grants will support faculty in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences to reinvigorate their research programs and complete significant projects that have been put on hold.
  • The Editorial Assistance Services Initiative in the Research Development Team in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research will expand its pool of writers to provide editorial support to at-risk faculty members in all fields as they submit manuscripts or proposals and to support large-scale grants. 

New Support Programs for PhD Students

We also acknowledge the challenges that the pandemic has posed to our PhD students, many of whom have experienced material impairment of their research activities. Accordingly, to ameliorate these impacts, the university has decided to establish a $5 million fund that will support two new COVID-relief fellowship awards:  

  • A travel and research award to assist PhD students with time-limited funding packages who experienced COVID-related delays in planned dissertation-related travel, fieldwork, or human research conduct. 
  • A dissertation completion award for students whose time-limited funding packages have expired but who need additional time to complete their dissertations because of COVID-related interruptions.  

More details about these faculty and PhD programs will be communicated later today. 
Once more, we offer our sincere gratitude to every member of our community for your steadfast commitment to the university during such a challenging year. That you understood and supported the short-term sacrifices that were required to stabilize our university during this unprecedented crisis says much about our community and its underlying values. We are particularly grateful to the many leaders throughout our institution whose unwavering dedication and commitment have allowed us to requite the many responsibilities that we have to each other and to the broader community. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Thank you all.


Ronald J. Daniels

Sunil Kumar
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Mary Miller
Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration