University of Kansas faces $120 million budget shortfall, chancellor says

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The University of Kansas

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — The University of Kansas faces a shortfall amounting to more than a quarter of its general operating budget after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close campuses, Chancellor Douglas Girod said Thursday.

The $120 million shortfall stems from losses in research dollars, event fees and student housing and dining revenue, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

“I share this sobering assessment to contextualize the hard decisions we need to make. With a budget shortfall of this magnitude, KU needs to adopt new business models, reorganize and restructure, streamline and cut programs, and implement long-term cost reductions to address historic financial challenges,” Girod said in a written message.

The chancellor added that “all options must be on the table” for the university. Those include sweeping vacant position budgets, using reserve funds and keeping in place the hiring freeze the university implemented in late April.

Girod also hinted that furloughs and layoffs — what he called “painful cost-savings measures” — are likely after the new fiscal year begins July 1.

In other coronavirus-related developments Thursday, Kansas regulators ordered utilities in the state to offer payment plans and waive late fees to help residential and small business customers avoid disconnection amid the pandemic.

The Kansas Corporation Commission said in a news release that its order aims to help customers struggling with the economic effects of the virus outbreak by giving them up to 12 months to pay off past due utility balances. An earlier order that had suspended utility disconnections expires on May 31.

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