Wright State University is entering the first year of a three-year plan aimed at aligning university operating expenses with projected future revenue, according to the 2020-21 budget approved June 19 by the university’s Board of Trustees.
The university expects to have revenues of $210 million in fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. That compares to a projection of approximately $253 million in revenue for the current fiscal year. The decline is due largely to anticipated reductions in state support.
Wright State has budgeted for a fall enrollment decline of 22%.
“This is a realistic but conservative estimate based upon trends. The enrollment team is working hard and we see some glimmers of sunshine coming through. I remain hopeful that enrollment will exceed expectations,” said Wright State President Sue Edwards. “Remember, we are not experiencing this alone. Many campuses in Ohio and across the nation are facing enrollment pressures as a result of COVID-19.”
The university is focused on updating articulation agreements with key partners like Sinclair Community College and Clark State Community College, enhancing relationships with local high schools, and re-aligning the strategy and focus behind awarding financial aid. The university also included investments in recruitment and marketing initiatives.
Expenses for the upcoming year are budgeted at $243 million, down from last year’s adopted budget of $257 million.
Greg Sample, chief operating officer, said over the next few years existing university operations will continue to undergo review and be re-aligned in a way to successfully meet the needs of a smaller enrollment.
“The campus community demonstrated great resolve these past few months and the sum total of their collective efforts pre-empted ending 2020 with a significant deficit," he said. "That focus will serve as a foundation moving forward with respect to the way all operational areas are strategically evaluated.”
In addition to managing position vacancies and strategic spending reductions, the university highlighted planned savings in the area of athletics through the elimination of women’s softball and men’s and women’s tennis. This will also be the last year of support for Double Bowler Properties Corporation, the 501-C-3 organization originally created to manage certain real estate investments on behalf of the university, while the existing affiliation agreement with the Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC) is set to expire in October 2020.
The Board of Trustees publicly thanked the Wright State community for the way the campus responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Wright State University is a vitally important and critically needed asset to this region. We will get the COVID-19 situation behind us, life will go on, and this board is committed to assuring that Wright State will be here for future students and other learners," said Tom Gunlock, university board chair.