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April 20, 2020 - From the President's Desk

Dear Wright State Community,

First and foremost, THANK YOU for everything all of you are doing for our students as we navigate these uncertain times! This is a difficult situation for all of us, for our families and communities, and for Wright State University. Wright State has been through a number of tough years and resilience remains the key to our success.

I am writing today to update the campus community on our continuing efforts around addressing the economic impacts of the current pandemic.

In the short term, the State of Ohio has informed us to plan for a significant reduction in what is remaining of this year’s State Share of Instruction. In addition, refunds and/or credits due to students exceed $3 million and summer enrollment has been negatively impacted, resulting in a decrease of 17 percent.

We’ve already taken and informed you of a number of steps to reduce expenses in the short term by instituting a hiring freeze on all non-approved external hires and significantly curbing expenditures in numerous areas. Today I am announcing the following additional measures that are being put in place:

  • University leadership (President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans) has voluntarily agreed to take a 20 percent reduction in salary.
  • Hold on all non-critical university-funded capital projects.
  • Freeze on all new contractual agreements for goods and services.
  • Elimination of all discretionary non-compensation spending.
  • Moving campus facilities into a low energy usage mode where possible.
  • Freezing all university-issued ProCards.

To date, Wright State has been committed to maintaining all personnel and positions. The State of Ohio has indicated they will release a plan addressing the return to work for Ohio businesses this week. We will review the plan and its impact on university operations in order to determine future staffing plans, which may include reductions in force. It may be necessary for us to utilize Governor DeWine’s Executive Order that expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio's emergency declaration period and utilize the provisions of the federal CARES Act that provide additional unemployment benefits.

As we look to next year the financial uncertainties presented by COVID-19 circumstances have exacerbated the existing financial challenges faced by Wright State. We must prepare for the economic impact of the pandemic on our students and their families and the university.

While we’ve made recent investments in marketing, recruitment, and retention, our fall enrollment is anticipated to be down once again. I share this with you in the context that our local competition is now increasing even more. Other local universities that traditionally recruited more out of state and international students understand that those two customer segments will be severely impacted because of COVID-19. As a result, they are redirecting their recruitment efforts to the local direct from high school, transfer, and unemployed sectors. Said another way, we are now seeing a heightened competition for the typical Raider Country student.

In the longer term, the State of Ohio has informed all public universities to plan for a 20 percent reduction in the upcoming year’s State Share of Instruction allocation. For Wright State that would translate into a revenue loss of nearly $20 million.

I apologize, as I know this situation creates anxiety, and as I have mentioned in all of my Webex sessions, I do not give you this information to create fear. I am committed to being as transparent as possible and to bring you clarity as soon as we can. We will work closely with the President’s Cabinet, the President’s Council, the Council of Deans, the Faculty Senate, and the Board of Trustees Finance Committee. I will keep the campus community updated as we develop strategies to address these very real financial challenges.

Best wishes,

Sue

 

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