St. Edward’s University moving toward ‘difficult and painful’ budget cuts due to COVID-19

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cutting six sports programs was just the beginning for St. Edward’s University.

The president of the small Catholic university in south Austin says the school’s bracing for major budget cuts across the board due to COVID-19 impacts.

“The budget reductions will impact all areas of the university,” President George Martin wrote in a letter sent to students Friday. “Many of them will be difficult and painful for members of our community.”

Martin said the university has experienced revenue losses of several million dollars as a result of: closing campus, moving to a full distance learning model, and reimbursing students for expenses like housing, meal plans and parking.

Enrollment and revenue projections for next school year indicate a 12% decline, which Martin said is going to require significant restructuring of planned fiscal year 2021 spending.

St. Edward’s budget council is looking at eliminating raises, a budget surplus, decreases in operating budgets, restructuring of the salary budget, and deferral of capital improvements.

Martin ranks among the highest paid private university leaders in the nation. According to the most recent 2018 data released by the Chronicle of Higher Education, his total compensation was $699,132, including $512,937 in base pay.

Martin said he will present a proposed budget for next school year to the fiduciary committee of the board this Wednesday. They will review it, make recommendations and then trustees will vote on a final plan on May 8.

KXAN requested an interview with the president, and asked for the total amount of proposed budgets cuts. A communications manager for the university sent the following statement:

President Martin’s letter to campus explains that we expect final approval of the budget on May 8, after which time specific budget adjustments will be communicated to the university community. 

Universities around the country are re-evaluating every aspect of their operations and making difficult decisions. We’re reminded that our situation is as unique as our university. We will make decisions that provide us sustainable approaches to continue our long-standing commitment to excellence from our Holy Cross mission. 

We are beyond thankful to all of the faculty and staff members who are presently focused on helping our students successfully finish the semester. 

We decline an interview today, but will share details of the budget implications with our university community when the budget is approved.

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