Texas State President Denise Trauth held a webinar to brief staff and faculty about the university’s COVID-19 response and financial planning in the wake of an impending budget cut and drop in student enrollment.
Trauth announced the university had been told by the state to cut its state subsidy budget by 5% for the 2021 fiscal year that starts Sept. 1, 2020.
Trauth said the university does not expect a budget cut from the state in the current fiscal year that ends in late August, but internal steps have been taken to preserve revenue and funding in the event there is a cut.
“One of the things I need to stress here is that these are one-time savings. They are not continuing savings. They are important savings, but they are not continuing savings,” Trauth said. “When we talk about a 5% decrease in our subsidy by the legislature, we are talking about a recurring decrease—a continuing decrease.”
Trauth said the university is planning for an 8% drop in enrollment, but she reassured the faculty that Texas State is financially secure.
“(The 8% decrease) relates to tuition and fees,” Trauth said. “This pandemic presents a challenge, the likes of which we have never seen before. We have to plan, and it does give us an opportunity to reinforce our values, and as I said at the outset, student success is at the center of everything we do.”
For every 1% drop in enrollment, the university loses about $2.6 million. The estimated 8% drop would result in about a $20.8 million loss.
The President’s Cabinet was directed to plan for what amounts to a 9.5% budget decrease in the non-fee funded areas of the university, Trauth said.
Fee-funded areas are directly linked to enrollment and will adapt to a decline in enrollment accordingly. For example, if the expected 8% decline in student enrollment occurs, an 8% cut can be expected.
When asked if Texas State employees would be laid off, Trauth said the university will do all it can to maintain employees but cannot make any promises.
“What I can pledge is that we will do everything we can to preserve positions at the university. But as we go through this process in the various divisions, I can’t stand here and promise that there never will be any layoffs,” Trauth said.
In regards to the timeline of deciding when faculty and staff will return to work and announce plans for summer II and fall, Trauth reiterated that the university plans to resume face-to-face instruction in summer II and the fall. However, Trauth said multiple options will be considered.
“Saying that we are face-to-face, doesn’t mean every single class has to be face-to-face,” Trauth said. “We could expand some of the remote instruction. We could delay the start of the fall semester. I’m not saying that we’ve made any decisions about any of this, but there are options out there that the work group will take on in order to answer (timeline questions).”