News, Featured Story, Administration, Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Pandemic Puts Strain on University Finances

The COVID-19 pandemic and Boston College’s ensuing move to online classes and closure of the residence halls have put significant strain on the University’s finances, according to a campus update from University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J.

In response to this financial strain, Leahy announced that BC is suspending pay increases based on merit for the coming year, a move which he said will save around $8 million for BC. He also announced an immediate hiring freeze, with the exception of positions that are “essential” for strategic and academic purposes.

BC is also requiring that travel for all conferences and events be authorized by either Leahy, Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead, or Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley. University purchases and the use of procurement cards will also be restricted.

“Despite the effects of the coronavirus and current economic turmoil, Boston College remains a vibrant, financially strong, top-tier institution of higher education firmly committed to its Jesuit, Catholic heritage and values,” Leahy said in the update.

Some construction projects are scheduled to be completed, Leahy announced, including the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, the Pete Frates Center, and housing in Rubenstein Hall. Other projects will be postponed, which Leahy said will delay $45 million in expenditures.

Boston Mayor Marty J. Walsh, BC ’09, halted all non-essential construction projects permitted by the City of Boston in mid-March, extending the order on March 25. The City of Newton, through which construction projects such as the Schiller Institute are permitted, adopted Massachusetts construction guidelines on March 25, stating that construction “can only continue with these strict social distancing, hand hygiene, employee health protections, and site risk prevention measures.”

BC has issued $23.6 million in prorated refunds for room and board expenses due to the residence hall closures, Leahy said in the email. 

Most employees are working from home, with the exception of those providing essential on-campus services or technical assistance for online learning, he said. The University has decided not to pay student employees if they are currently unable to work remotely because the University’s allotment of Federal Work-Study funds for the year year has been “fully utilized,” according to a statement on the University’s Coronavirus Updates webpage.

“[Boston College] has sufficient financial reserves and liquidity to withstand the recent refund of board and room payments, loss of revenue from various campus events, and fluctuations in the value of its endowment,” Leahy said. 

“But these developments have put a significant strain on finances, and the University also must have the capacity to respond effectively to possible continued effects of COVID-19 and economic decline on enrollment, staffing needs, intercollegiate athletics, and philanthropic support in the coming months.”

The University’s endowment reported in the 2019-2020 Fact Book stands at just under $2.5 billion. 

April 15, 2020