The Marshall University Board of Governors today approved the institution’s budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The $293 million budget is a decrease from last year because of anticipated revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related uncertainty regarding fall enrollment and financial markets. A plan to reduce university expenditures by at least $14.7 million was part of the package the board approved.
Most national higher education surveys are predicting a decrease in enrollment as families navigate the financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 crisis.
President Jerome A. Gilbert said, "We will continue to work diligently to ensure that a Marshall education is affordable and attainable, but we must face the possibility of a decrease in the tuition revenue that funds Marshall University—lower enrollment means less money to support our operations."
As part of the budget reductions, the university will temporarily cut salaries for some employees. Gilbert informed faculty and staff of the pending cuts in an e-mail earlier this month.
Board members noted that if enrollment is better than expected this fall, the budget will be adjusted accordingly.
At today’s meeting, the board also approved revisions to the university’s fee schedule, adding a new single room-with-bath option in the first-year residence halls, and reducing rates for the Fairfield Landing graduate housing complex, which opened last fall near the School of Pharmacy. The reduction in the monthly rate for units in Fairfield Landing is the result of a marketing study conducted this spring and is intended to make the apartments more competitive in the local market. The new fee schedule also reduces the charges for expenses related to supplying printed documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from $1 per page to 50 cents per page.
There are no residence hall or tuition increases for undergraduate or graduate students for the 2020-21 academic year.
In other business, the board voted its support for COVID-19 health and safety measures as part of a comprehensive Return-to-Campus plan for the coming academic year and to rename the Bachelor of Science in Safety Technology program to Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health to better reflect the curriculum and be more consistent with similar programs at other institutions.
Additionally, the board authorized Gilbert to execute an agreement with Steel of West Virginia (SWVA), which owns property adjacent to the university’s Huntington campus. SWVA recently requested the City of Huntington rezone its property from Light to Heavy Industrial. The university initially objected to the rezoning on the grounds the change could have a negative impact on the campus, particularly if SWVA were to sell the property in the future. The restrictive use declaration authorized today specifies that if SWVA sells or transfers the land, it could not be used for any purpose that would violate the city’s Light Industrial zoning regulations.