At this Thursday’s briefing for all UW-Eau Claire faculty, staff and student leaders, Chancellor James Schmidt shared some positive admissions indications and also provided additional detail on planning scenarios for the fall semester should enrollment fall short of previous years’ levels.
Here are the key points from this week’s briefing:
- The university has seen an increase in applications from students near UW-Eau Claire, who may have planned to relocate further to begin their college experience but have reconsidered because of the pandemic. Area high school students are being made aware that there is still time to apply to UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire – Barron County, the application fee is now only $25, and there are still scholarships available through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.
- Updated expense reporting indicates one-time expenses associated with COVID-19 have increased since last week’s briefing, bringing the institution’s COVID-19 budget shortfall to $8.6 million. Chancellor Schmidt indicated the university will still be able to cover that loss using emergency reserves and cash balances, some of which may be replaced by federal relief funds.
- UW-Eau Claire is still considering contingency scenarios so the university can continue operating even in the face of a more than 10% decline in overall enrollment and an emergency state budget reduction. These figures are for planning purposes only, and no solid information about fall enrollment numbers or a potential state budget reduction is known. The chancellor likened the budget preparations to being in a severe weather warning: “We know there’s a storm coming and that it could hit us, but it’s too early to know if the storm will pass directly overhead or miss us entirely. We’ve got to be prepared for either scenario.”
- Some units are moving swiftly to determine how consecutive-day furloughs could help their staff retain benefits while not collecting a salary or working. All divisions and colleges are formulating budget plans that make sense for their areas, which may deploy tools including: cutting supplies and travel; strategically not filling open positions; utilizing a strategic, limited hiring freeze; and using consecutive-day or intermittent furloughs. UW-Eau Claire is not considering layoffs.
- The UW System will make a collective decision about whether in-person fall classes will be held by July 10.
For additional information, UW-Eau Claire students and employees can visit the Chancellor COVID-19 Briefings page on the Chancellor’s Office Blugold Insider site, the UW System’s Frequently Asked Questions page, and, for public resources, uwec.ly/COVID-19. The next chancellor briefing will be Thursday, April 30, at 5 p.m.