The college projects losses between $33 and $76 million in the next fiscal year due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to a letter President M. Lee Pelton sent to faculty Monday.
The letter says Emerson has already suffered a loss of $7 million in the spring semester and predicts a massive loss in the 2020-21 fiscal year, contingent on student enrollment.
The letter responds to a slew of complaints from professors brought up in a faculty meeting held last Tuesday, where faculty members claimed the college failed to consult them in crafting the recently announced reopening plan. Pelton’s message also outlines the pandemic’s financial impact on the college.
“We do not know about the future, we do know that we will be living with COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed, produced and administered to 300 million Americans — a development that is not likely to occur in the near future,” the letter reads. “In the meantime, all of us will be adapting to the virus as the economy reopens and familiar aspects of human society begin to repopulate.”
The college will announce new financial cuts in early July to help mitigate the projected losses.
Pelton said various mathematical models from an undisclosed source indicated that a hybrid online and in-person fall semester would yield a better financial outcome for the college.
He also admits to not communicating effectively with faculty and commits to improving communication efforts between faculty and administration in the future. Another open forum for faculty will be held later in the week and per requests, professors from each department will be granted a meeting with the college’s epidemiological consultants.
“The Forum made clear that we need to do a better job of communicating to faculty, recognizing the distinctively critical roles that they play at the College,” Pelton said.
Pelton also noted in the letter that Emerson will participate in the “Safe for School Testing Program,” committing to daily COVID-19 symptom monitoring through a wellness app, and “enhanced testing and tracing programs.”
“Our priorities remain the same: reduce risks, support the safety of our community, and continue to provide a high-quality educational experience that will prepare our students for meaningful futures,” Pelton wrote.