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Friday, July 31, 2020

Fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment preview

You’ve heard references to “summer melt” before. Summer melt refers to students who make a deposit confirming they will attend the University in the fall but then have a change of mind and do not enroll. Every summer comes with melt. Around the country, pretty much every higher education institution is carefully following the melt this year because nearly all institutions assume the melt will be higher. A higher melt can lead to enrolling a smaller class than expected, which can of course lead to budgetary challenges.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Budget results for fiscal year 2020

During the last academic year, I filled you in on the results of the Compact process, the fiscal challenges created by the pandemic and some of our initial steps, as well as some of the general pre-pandemic financial issues faced by the college. In that latter message, I wrote that “CLA’s budget has been basically sound in recent years, with end-of-year surpluses in fiscal years 2015 through 2018. In fiscal 2019, however, we had to draw more on our carry-forward and reserve funds than we’d prefer. We’ve been aggressive in faculty hiring and in other college and department initiatives that advance the CLA Roadmap, which I have viewed as absolutely necessary. However, we do need to be mindful to align our resources and expenses because reserves are not a well we can draw on excessively.”

We have now concluded fiscal year 2020 and the good news is that we held roughly steady with our draw from carryforward. The bad news is that we held roughly steady with our draw from carryforward.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Initial fiscal steps in response to the pandemic

In previous messages, I’ve discussed some of the financial challenges brought on by or exacerbated by the pandemic. As you’ll recall, the University developed a COVID-adjusted budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021). And the University required every unit to submit spending reductions of 3% and 6% in what were labeled Contingency 1 and Contingency 2. 

For CLA, once we set aside the campus-level and system-level cost pools we must contribute toward, the 3% reduction for Contingency 1 amounts to 4.5% of the spending that we actually control. Our Contingency 1 target was $7.4 million in spending reductions. To use some budgetary jargon, that’s a lot. Our list of contingency reductions was due to central on June 20 and I want to update you on what we submitted. I’m grateful to the Council of Chairs and others who collaborated productively and constructively as we generated the list. 

These items were included on the 3% list submitted to central:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Supporting our international students

This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made changes around regulations regarding international students taking classes remotely or online. These changes would have significant deleterious effects on our students and our mission. 

As background: Pre-COVID, an international student in the United States could only take three credits of online coursework while the remainder had to be in person. During spring and summer, due to the situation created by the pandemic, a change in the regulations permitted all course work to be completed remotely while the student could remain in the country. The new policy announced for fall requires students at institutions like the U that are following a hybrid model (some in-person instruction, some remote) to have at least one course with some in-person content. The class itself could be a hybrid class. Students who do not receive some in-person instruction would be subject to removal from the country and, for new and continuing students currently outside of the country, an inability to enter the country.