Despite their clear differences on key aspects of coronavirus relief, I urge Congress and the White House to find common ground and provide additional aid for the nation’s colleges and universities as soon as possible.
Without question, the pandemic has caused massive disruption in the higher education sector. Pandemic-related expenses already have been enormous and continue to mount. At the same time, our institutions are suffering severe revenue losses.
The relief bill passed by the U.S. House in May includes a much-needed $37 billion for the nation’s colleges and universities, which would have translated into $119 million in additional federal relief for the UMass system. Funding at this level would help UMass sustain high-quality programs and avoid many painful budget cuts. Even with additional aid, we would still be cutting, but on a more manageable scale.
As a university president and as a former member of Congress, I know that it is vital to protect the quality and vitality of our higher education sector, a powerful economic engine. As a nation, we need to keep moving forward. Our students need to move forward. We need to be primed for renewal and recovery when the pandemic is behind us. And we need to be engaged in R&D efforts aimed at treating and preventing COVID-19, subduing other potential health threats, and driving our innovation economy.
Maintaining the strength of colleges and universities today will translate into a better tomorrow for our students and the nation.