The board well understands the financial challenges Ithaca College has faced this year. Before we share more about the revised, approved FY21 budget — the budget for our current 2020-21 academic year — the board would like to express its sincere gratitude to the college’s leadership and to the members of this community, including the Institutional Effectiveness and Budget Committee (IEBC), for the diligent work and the difficult choices that have been made to respond to and absorb as best as possible the tremendous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the college.
The board’s greatest responsibility is to ensure the college’s long-term health and fiscal sustainability, and now, more than ever, trustees remain focused on and strongly committed to our fiduciary duty in support of the mission of Ithaca College and in full support of the implementation of the college’s strategic plan, Ithaca Forever.
As a reminder for this community, the board decided during its May 2020 meetings to delay the approval of the budget until June 2020, due to the impact of COVID. In June, the board approved a net revenue operating budget of $189 million for FY21. This budget reflects savings generated by: pausing of the employer retirement contribution, which represents about $7.5 million in savings; pausing salary increment raises; pausing the ICLA, London, and affiliated programs; offering the early retirement program; and our staff workforce reductions. The college reduced other areas such as travels, meals, and entertainment.
Given the ongoing public health crisis — and the necessary work the college has embarked upon in response — and to also maintain the momentum of Ithaca Forever, the budget approved in June needed to be revised. The revised FY21 budget reflects the lost room, board, and auxiliary revenue as a response to being remote for the semester. It also includes $7 million in COVID-related expenses, up from the $1 million projected in June, confirming the college’s focus to prioritize community health and safety as we prepare to reopen the campus for the Spring 2021 semester.
Even with the diligent work of this community, the revised and approved budget for FY21 has a projected $13 million deficit — more than half of this sum is represented by the $7 million in COVID-related expenses, the largest part of which is testing. Furthermore, this budget anticipates reopening for the Spring 2021 semester. In the event this does not occur due to circumstances beyond our control, the deficit would increase. The board also reviewed scenarios around this during its meetings last week.
Now that the board has approved the revised budget for FY21, the college administration and the IEBC begins the hard work to present to the board a balanced budget for FY22 — academic year 2021-22 — in May 2021.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Guerrero will share more about the approved FY21 budget and information about the work that’s beginning on the FY22 budget during his next InFinity meeting, this Friday, October 30, from noon to 1 p.m.