University of Minnesota faces potential $315 million loss due to COVID-19 pandemic

With in-person classes canceled for the rest of the spring semester, the University of Minnesota campus is nearly empty of students. (FOX 9)

At college campuses across the country, lecture halls are empty and once bustling common areas are ghost towns. University of Minnesota leaders say the COVID-19 pandemic could cost the university $315 million.

“A best case would be summer is back to normal and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen each day that we stay in the status that we’re in,” said Brian Burnett, the U of M vice president of finance.

In “a worst case scenario” presented to the Board of Regents Tuesday, the novel coronavirus outbreak would continue right through summer and impact the fall semester. This results in not just lost housing and tuition money, but huge losses associated with cancelled events and closed venues.

“We will have significant change to deal with in the coming months and while we can’t offer a finite answer today, these changes will impact the work we do, the priorities we set and who we need to accomplish them,” said Ken Horstman, the U of M’s vice president of human resouces, during an online town hall.

As a result, the university has put a freeze on hiring, and higher ups will take a pay cut, but President Joan Gabel says not all is lost.

“We were in very good financial strength when this started, we had a strong leadership team when this started, and it should put us in a position to emerge stronger than ever,” said Gabel.

The university recently advised students that the summer semester would also be held online or in alternative formats.