Despite challenges, Gee optimistic
West Virginia University is facing a budget shortfall between $10 million to $15 million for 2021 because of COVID-19, President Gordon Gee told The Dominion Post Monday.
“But, I do not anticipate any layoffs or cutting salaries,” Gee said.
“We’re managing the numbers as carefully as possible.”
Belt-tightening measures, such as salary reductions or financial donations from senior administrators and cut back traveling.
“It has been a tremendous financial challenge,” Gee said. “At the moment we’re managing the financial issues, but things change daily.”
In the spring, WVU was faced with a $30 million budget deficit brought on by the pandemic and its decision to go to online learning. It furloughed 800 mostly staff members to reduce expenses by $4 million.
University employees – because of the timing of the furloughs – were able to take advantage of federal unemployment compensation. Workers were back to their jobs by July 31, when the federal program expired.
COVID on campus
Since returning to class Aug. 26 in Morgantown, the university has had to suspend more than 20 students for violating COVID-19 safety protocols. It also is having its Morgantown students do virtual learning until Sept. 25, in an effort to lower the number of novel coronavirus cases on campus.
“If student to not have a series of parties, then we would still be in class,” said Gee, adding that being on campus is a powerful experience or students, especially underclassmen.
“We can’t keep going back and forth,” with virtual learning.
Many university seniors, especially those based on the Morgantown campus, are taking courses virtually as part of an effort to reduce density on campus.
“This is the first time I have had to deal with a pandemic,” Gee said. “I don’t think we’ll go back to normal.”
Gee said it currently takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for a student to receive COVID-19 test results. The university, he said, has protocols in place that ensures any student who may have the virus quarantines until he has his results.
“I am concerned about the mental health of the students,” Gee said Monday. “We have to manage this every day. “We had decided to bring back all of the students back in July, then the spike occurred,” in Monongalia County.
“We wanted to make sure we flattened the curve.”
Still by the end of October, Gee told The Dominion Post he expects there will be a vaccine for the virus. He also said the Presidential Election will be over as well and the toxicity throughout the country will disappear.
“We’ve had to Fox Trot, then Waltz, and now the Rumba,” he said. “We should have our arms around (the virus) more readily.”