The University of Kansas could face at least $60 million in lost revenue for the 2020-21 academic year, Chancellor Douglas Girod told University Governance at a meeting Thursday.
While KU suffered a $35 million loss in housing, dining, parking and events cancelled last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the finance team estimated anywhere from $60 to $200 million in lost revenue for this academic year.
The state of Kansas cut 5.5% of its funding to KU, Girod said, but KU was able to use federal funding “not to backfill our state budget, but to be used for COVID expenses.”
“So it wasn’t exactly a swap, and we’ve been informed that that cut is now a permanent cut,” Girod said.
KU invested roughly $30 million dollars in COVID-19 safety measures, including reconfiguring classrooms, new technology, PPE, testing and other expenses, Girod said.
Girod estimated enrollment decreased roughly 4% in the fall semester. KU typically does not release an official enrollment count until the 20th day of the semester, which this semester falls on Sept. 21.
“We don’t really count enrollment until the 20th day, and this year is more fluid than ever,” Girod said.
In an attempt to keep campus as safe as possible, course makeups were shifted to allow for fully online options if students did not feel comfortable coming to campus.
Girod spoke with Student Housing director Sarah Waters and found that after schedules were adjusted, about 575 students pulled out of their housing contracts.
During the meeting Thursday, Girod praised the KU community for its compliance with the mask mandate and said the minimal issues he saw on campus were not from students, faculty and staff.
“I drive across campus and I’m impressed at how compliant it is,” Girod said. “We still, to be honest, struggle a little bit with our community partners who love to walk and jog and walk their dogs on campus. Where I see we have challenges around compliance is often there.”
Girod also commended professor Brian McClendon for creating the CVKey app and bringing it to campus. The app will now be extended into various businesses across Lawrence.
Girod also updated University governance on KU’s new testing strategy moving forward into the semester. KU will update campus numbers through an online dashboard twice a week, Girod announced Friday afternoon.
“Starting this week, our testing will take on a different format,” Girod said. “It’s going to be a combination of random testing, so there will be random generated names every week and you may pop up in the lottery at some point through the course of this semester. And if you do, I hope you’ll cooperate coming in to get a test done.”
As students make up the largest group on campus, they will be the largest pool of random testing. Testing will also be more targeted toward potential hot spots on campus.
When asked how high KU will allow positive numbers to go before campus is closed, Girod said that rate is determined based on the number of tests received.
“If your rate is high, you probably aren’t testing enough,” Girod said. “It’s a big problem. We are not testing enough, period.”