Members of faculty will consult regularly with the administration in the coming weeks on planning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provost M. Brian Blake provided an update on fall operations and budget planning during a special Faculty Senate meeting held Wednesday, as faculty emphasized more active consultation in the process.
The university continues to plan for on-campus instruction and a residential academic experience this fall, Dr. Blake said, and noted the importance of making necessary changes to achieve that goal while monitoring governmental guidance and the spread of the virus as well as relying on GW’s public health and medical expertise.
“It’s going to require us to use all of our time between now and the fall to make sure the campus is in the best position to support our students—their health and safety and the level of instruction that they are accustomed to from us,” Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Blake also provided an overview of the structure of academic and operations planning and faculty involvement. Academic planning is focused on academic instruction; enrollment, retention and student success; research; and faculty. Operations planning is focused on community health and well-being, support services, campus events and activities, and campus spaces.
In addition to the plan to return to on-campus operations, the university is also preparing for contingencies in the event that online instruction is necessary, either in part or in full.
All of the efforts are being guided foremost by public health, medical expertise and safety, Dr. Blake said, and ongoing faculty input and consultation is critical.
Dr. Blake and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz sent a message to the university community on Wednesday with these and other details.
Regarding budget discussions, Dr. Blake said the university is considering all options to prepare for a $100 to $300 million adverse impact on the budget in fiscal 2021.
Cost efficiency in both the short- and long-term, as well as more strategic and broader changes, are central considerations. Dr. Blake added he is meeting with deans to discuss school budget plans and has also encouraged them to have discussions with their faculty.
The university is also earmarking funds that will be necessary for testing, tracing and quarantining protocols as well as cleaning, decontamination and online course design and delivery, Dr. Blake said.
Important in the planning process is a statement recently released by the Board of Trustees, Dr. Blake added, which outlined principles and framework for budget decisions.
Broad stakeholder involvement, including consultation with faculty, is key, he said.
“In my history the best solutions we have been able to provide have come from ones that bring input from all sources, particularly those that have strong connection to the operation,” Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Blake also updated the senate on fall enrollment.
Considering past summer attrition, GW would be on track to enroll 2,240 fall-entering first-year students and 300 transfer students, Dr. Blake said. However, currently there is significant uncertainly about the level of attrition before the fall and the overall yield of the transfer students admitted.
During a question-and-answer session, senators emphasized the importance of continued information sharing between the administration and faculty and active faculty consultation throughout the university’s decision-making process on fall operations and budget actions.
The senate also adopted three resolutions:
- The first amended the senate’s bylaws to allow the Executive Committee to arrange additional meetings of the full senate in urgent circumstances.
- The second addressed “budget austerity principles,” urging the administration to continue consultations with faculty and other stakeholders before budget and other operational decisions are made.
- The third expressed gratitude for GW Libraries and Academic Innovation and urged the administration to approve the librarian and staff positions requested.