U of M regents approve budget, plan to help offset pandemic losses

Goldy statue wearing a mask.
The University of Minnesota in April announced it will freeze tuition for most students at its five campuses in the next academic year to provide financial relief to current students and help lure in new students during the pandemic.
Glenn Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP file

The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents on Friday approved a $4 billion operating budget for the coming fiscal year as well as a plan to help offset losses due to the coronavirus.

The budget outline includes freezes on tuition, systemwide hiring and merit pay raises for all employees. Separately, regents approved an initiative for temporary employee pay cuts and furloughs to help make up for $35 million in room and board refunds after students were sent home for the spring semester.

The fiscal year 2021 budget beginning July 1 assumes a return to “near normalcy” with the reopening of campus classrooms and facilities in the fall. University leaders have developed two contingency plans in case the pandemic worsens and the return of students is pushed deeper into the fall.

The budget "provides a responsible, by no means definite, base level of operations from which potential contingency plans can be shaped,” President Joan Gabel said during a regents committee meeting Thursday.

Gabel’s COVID-19 budget includes a tuition freeze for most students, the elimination of merit pay raises for staff, minimal capital investment and lower residency in campus facilities. There's also a 10 percent pay cut for Gabel and her cabinet.

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