In a community announcement, DU Chancellor Jeremy Haefner said DU will “reopen with face-to-face classes when we begin our fall quarter in mid-September, even if it must be modified in some way.” This assumes no local, state, or federal barriers that would limit, modify, or halt a planned reopening.
Haefner presented a largely positive view of Denver’s response to the pandemic, while also citing $21 million in lost revenue and unanticipated additional expenses, which undoubtedly will have a serious financial impact on the university. Haefner reports that while the loss has been somewhat mitigated by freezes on non-essential spending, DU is using reserves to “manage the gap.”
Going forward, DU is creating a network of University-wide task forces created to manage scenario planning and the implementation of classes during the pandemic over the short term.
Several of the newly announced task forces will address the current course offerings as well as potential opportunities created by the pandemic. One of these task forces has been assigned to re-examine academic program/unit strength and viability. “This group will seek to identify strong programs that might be leveraged to strengthen other areas of the university as well as weak programs in need of interventions, support, or discontinuance,” according to Haefner. We believe that’s academic-speak for coming round(s) of major cuts to university programs and staff.
While DU will likely be looking mostly at internal economics, parents and students may come to challenge the value proposition of college education. Here at LetsGoDU, we hope DU also uses this time to refocus DU on programs that deliver essential knowledge and skill development, rather than focusing on conceptual indoctrination, which has caused serious division and degradation of the campus culture. Indeed, it may be time to focus on cultivating attitudes that foster appreciation of the university environment, rather than cultivating those that describe it as “oppressive” or “intolerant”.
Chancellor Haefner himself is going to chair a task force group that will assess the University’s current strategic directions, while also exploring ‘opportunities’ during this turbulent period. Surprisingly, according to Haefner, this exploration may extend to “property acquisition, mergers, and acquisitions of other universities and/or businesses.” In addition, this group will also consider external and alumni relationships as well as advancement/philanthropy.” Alumni will no doubt be seeking more transparency between what the university says to its stakeholders and what it actually does behind the scenes. Haefner’s committee recommendations will be delivered by August 1st.
Interestingly, no task force was assigned to look at the current administrative structure of overhead at the University.
Photo courtesy of the University of Denver