Published in Talent

GVSU plans to resume in-person classes for fall, cover $13M COVID-19 shortfall

BY Tuesday, May 12, 2020 04:07pm

ALLENDALE — Grand Valley State University is tentatively planning to resume in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester while absorbing an anticipated $13 million budget shortfall related to the coronavirus.

During a virtual town hall event today, school officials outlined the Allendale-based university’s COVID-19 planning, including resuming a “face-to-face residential experience” in the fall, said President Philomena Mantella. 

GVSU President Philomena Mantella COURTESY PHOTO

GVSU will follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention, and may have to adapt plans if required by future executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Campus events likely will be restricted during the fall semester to “preserve much of our physical assets for learning that needs to take place,” Mantella said.

Central Michigan University also is planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, President Robert Davis announced Monday. Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University and Lake Superior State University also are planning in-person classes in the fall.

Mantella told MiBiz last week that GVSU is supporting “multi-modality enrollment” that will allow students to take classes online if needed.

GVSU officials say the university has sufficient classroom space to be able to maintain social distancing during classes.

“We have some real assets and maneuvering room to be able to offer face-to-face classes at Grand Valley,” Mantella said last week.

Also, roughly 80 percent of the school’s student housing is apartment suite style with private bathrooms.

“We’re dealing with a 20 percent problem,” Mantella said of student housing. “Unless we’re in a stay-at-home order, we should be able to work within the guidelines as long as we take the necessary precautions.”

Meanwhile, GVSU officials say lost revenue because of housing, dining and parking refunds and costs associated with moving to remote learning amount to $13 million this fiscal year. By comparison, Western Michigan University has reportedly lost more than $45 million in revenue this fiscal year, while CMU’s could be “upwards of $25 million,” Davies told MiBiz recently.

Greg Sanial, GVSU vice president for finance and administration, said these costs will be absorbed through a contingency built into the budget and reserves. GVSU also qualified for $18.3 million in federal CARES Act funding, which will be used for student aid. 

“We will continue to take prudent cost-cutting measures,” Mantella said.

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