BOSTON – University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan today said that the university is emerging from the pandemic period “with its academic, research and financial strengths fully intact” and positioned to play a major role in driving renewal and recovery in the Commonwealth.
“Thanks to the leadership of the Board of Trustees and the sound management of our chancellors and finance teams, the University of Massachusetts is positioned to thrive – not just for the next fiscal year or decade – but for generations,” Meehan said.
Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the UMass Board of Trustees, during which the Board approved the university’s operating budget for the coming year, Meehan said there are many signs UMass has weathered the Covid-19 storm and is moving forward in its mission of service to the Commonwealth. Those signs include:
- The five campuses of the UMass system recently awarding 19,000 degrees to students, the vast majority of whom will live and work in Massachusetts.
- Projecting that student enrollment will remain stable and that each of the UMass campuses will be open to students when the new academic year begins in the Fall.
- The university being on course to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget and projecting a six percent increase in its workforce, bringing staffing back to pre-pandemic Fiscal Year 2019 levels.
- Using $113 million in federal recovery funds to provide emergency grants to students in need while also freezing tuition for most students for a second consecutive year.
“As I said at our recent commencements, we can now feel the breeze of reawakening and recovery flowing throughout the university and in our daily lives. UMass answered the call throughout the dark days of the pandemic and will continue to be there for Massachusetts and for the world,” Meehan said.
UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Manning said the university established sound goals and benefitted from strong management and leadership throughout the pandemic period.
“Over the past year and a half, our driving principles have been simple – preserve the strength of the university and do as much as we can for the students who have been hit hardest by this crisis,” said Manning. “By balancing the need to stabilize operating costs with the imperative to support our neediest students, we have held true to our mission throughout the most challenging of circumstances.”
Both President Meehan and Chairman Manning also indicated that while the university is on firm financial footing now due to active financial management, the expiration of federal funding after this fiscal year, combined with ongoing disruption in the higher education industry nationwide, will require continued vigilance and innovative management in the coming years.
UMass expects to receive $258.6 million in total federal stimulus funding. In addition to the $113.5 million that will support student emergency grants, the university will strategically invest $145 million of these one-time funds – available through the end of fiscal year 2022 – to create a financial bridge to future fiscal years with the goal of ensuring financial stability for the long term.
“We are grateful to the members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, to the leaders in the U.S. House and Senate, and to the President for stepping up to assist UMass and all of higher education,” Meehan said. “The federal funds are a critical bridge for this fiscal year and next, allowing us to make the necessary strategic decisions to keep UMass financially strong for the long term.”