Another private university in the Lone Star State is announcing budget cuts in anticipation of revenue shortfalls in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic and government-ordered shutdown of much of the economy.
In a recent letter to current students and staff, St. Edward’s University President George Martin said the pandemic and the need to cancel in-person classes has led to less revenue and more expenses, meaning the university has had to cut employee positions and programs.
“Reductions in staff were the last things we considered, and desperately wanted to avoid,” wrote Martin. “Unfortunately, there was no other way to balance the budget. Thus, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget includes the reduction of employee positions, effective this month.”
Martin says the university is expecting to lose roughly 12 percent of its revenue as a result of declining enrollment due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which has likely made many would-be St. Edward’s students re-evaluate attending the private university with a yearly price tag of around $65,000.
As a result, Martin is cutting administrative salaries (including his own), postponing construction projects, and laying off 10 percent of university staff.
“The streamlining and efficiencies introduced in the plan actually enable us to provide students with an even higher-quality experience than before,” he wrote. “Most important, the plan avoids a budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2021, a risk that would jeopardize the future of the university. I am confident our plan will lead St. Edward’s to better days ahead.”
St. Edward’s isn’t the only university in Texas that’s cutting back on programs and staff.
Last month, Baylor University announced plans to stave off merit pay increases for staff, reduce the university’s contribution to staff retirement accounts, implement a hiring freeze, and initiate strategic reviews of all programs and spending.
Those and other measures are expected to trim $65-80 million from the university’s budget—amounting to savings of roughly 10 percent of Baylor’s overall budget.
But as St. Edward’s and Baylor cut back, their public university compatriots have yet to announce anything similar. Texas A&M, UT, Texas Tech, and other taxpayer-funded universities have announced no budget cuts, despite clear indications from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar that the state will have a funding shortfall in the near future.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who appoints the regents who oversee these universities and university systems, has yet to require state agencies to start cutting their budgets.