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University of Delaware sees multimillion dollar loss, transitions summer classes online

Delaware Public Media

The University of Delaware faces an unprecedented multimillion dollar loss after the coronavirus crisis pushed classes online this semester. 

The university has also decided to cancel all in-person summer programs — and move summer classes online. 


“The Governor’s guidance that came out on Friday said that we’re nowhere near reopening things,” said UD spokesperson Andrea Boyle Tippett.

UD President Dennis Assanis told the school community in a letterMonday that the university is “poised to weather the storm” of current challenges facing the nation. But he said the pandemic has dealt the university’s budget a $65 million blow — which the school shaved down to $50 million through federal relief and mitigation measures. The university’s total operating budget last fiscal year was $1.1 billion.

The main source of revenue loss was the shuttering of student residence halls and the subsequent refund of housing, dining and other fees to students, says Boyle Tippett. 

The school points to lost income associated with cancelled events and athletic programs, rental of UD facilities to outside groups, as well as increased costs associated with converting and operating instruction online.

Capital projects already under construction will continue, but some planned projects, including a new residence hall, are on hold.

Boyle Tippett says UD expects philanthropic giving to the institution to also take a hit — but that financial aid and scholarships will not be affected. 

However, the university enacted a hiring freeze April 14 and is looking into staff “realignment.”

“It's really not about layoffs,” Boyle Tippett said. “It's really about maintaining the workforce we have currently and hoping that we can find people ... whose workload has diminished now since they’re remote and reassign them at least on a temporary basis to other tasks.”

No decision has been made about whether the fall semester will be online — but Boyle Tippett says public health concerns outweigh fiscal ones. 

She says the university is considering a number of factors. "What other universities are doing, what the state is doing, and then what our academic officials think is appropriate," she said. "They're working very closely with the faculty members to say, what forms can learning take, whether it's in-person or online."

According to Assanis’ letter, the university has created a task force to monitor the situation and evaluate “contingency plans” that could be considered for the 2020-21 academic year.

Assanis says he will give an update in early June.

“I know I speak on behalf of our entire community when I say to those who have been personally affected by this public health crisis through the suffering or loss of a loved one, our hearts go out to you,” Assanis wrote in his letter. “Please lean on each other to find strength and comfort, and know that UD remains a haven of solace and support.”

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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