May 4, 2020
The Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) announced today several actions both MICUA and its member institutions have taken to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our top priority is the health and safety of the students, faculty, staff, and administration at MICUA member institutions as we address the unprecedented economic challenges facing independent higher education,” says MICUA President Sara Fidler. “We are committed to opening our campuses in the fall should it be safe to do so, as we know this provides the optimal educational experience for our students,” says MICUA Board Chair Andrea E. Chapdelaine, president of Hood College. “We miss our students and are anxious to have them return” she added.
During this time of uncertainty, MICUA has advocated on behalf of its members to representatives of Congress and State-level leaders for stimulus funding and other policy initiatives. Communications with Congress have emphasized the importance of being included in federal COVID-related legislation such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and expressed the need for funds to ameliorate costs relating to technology, room and board, and unprecedented financial challenges facing our students.
In the short-term, colleges and universities face a number of unexpected expenses from the outbreak, including pro-rated refunds issued to students for room and board, residential facility cleaning operations, and increased technology costs associated with moving to online courses. Campuses also provided direct hardship relief to students. Through the end of the spring semester, MICUA member campuses anticipate estimated revenue losses and COVID related costs of more than $200 million. Allocated Federal CARES Act funds will cover less than 12 percent of these losses and costs. It is expected that losses next year, even if students can return to campuses in some fashion, will be even more severe.
Supported by only 3 percent of State higher education funds, MICUA institutions produce 27 percent of Maryland’s bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree recipients. “Reliance on tuition makes private nonprofit institutions particularly vulnerable to prospective COVID-related fall enrollment declines, which could be an estimated 20 percent or more,” Fidler says. “We are grateful to the local, State, and federal officials who are working on behalf of MICUA’s 65,600 students and 33,000 employees to secure adequate support for their financial futures and those of the regions in which they live and serve.”
Chapdelaine added, “we are so very proud of the contributions that our students and faculty have made to being part of the solution to these challenging times.” As early as February 26, MICUA institutions began to prepare for students who were studying abroad to return home or to shelter in place safely. By March 15, all institutions had taken steps to transition to remote instruction. Protocols to prevent contagion, including strategies to implement quarantine and continue business operations were developed. By March 20, all MICUA institutions had determined that remote instruction would continue for the rest of the semester.
“Our graduates and faculty are on the front lines contributing meaningfully to maintaining the safety and health of all of the people of Maryland; our faculty and our students have admirably and effectively transitioned well to a remote-learning environment,” Chapdelaine said. “We also send appreciation to our colleagues in primary and secondary education, who, like us, are figuring out how to build the plane while flying it, to ensure that there is no interruption to instruction for any of Maryland’s students.”
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