BGSU president talks cuts, looks ahead as coronavirus crisis continues

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - Like many institutions, Bowling Green State University is feeling the sting of COVID-19, especially in its bottom line.

"The governor really asked us to begin to do some planning around a reduction in the state share of instruction," BGSU president Dr. Rodney Rogers said.

Rogers says roughly 25 percent of the university's budget comes from state funding. With $110 million set to be slashed from Ohio higher education in the coming months, Rogers says BGSU had to react.

"We've got to do our part to quickly figure out, 'How do we appropriately budget in our model?,'" Rogers said.

Last Friday, 119 university employees were either laid off or non-renewed in an effort to balance a projected $29 million shortfall. Rogers called it a "difficult decision" as BGSU braces for a slimmer budget and lower enrollment due to people's own financial struggles.

"We worked very hard to try to minimize that number, but I know that isn't very comforting to the individuals that have been impacted by it," Rogers said.

While hundreds were left jobless, 43 faculty members were promoted. It's move Rogers says BGSU was contractually obligated to do. He says it also sets the university up for future success.

"Our future will depend upon having high quality faculty at the institution," Rogers said.

Now planning for a fall semester with face-to-face classes, Rogers says it's anyone's guess as to how things will go. If things improve, he says the university could eventually bring some people back. For now, the focus is on weathering the coronavirus crisis while remaining financially stable.

"We certainly understand the human element of this and, believe me, we do not take any of that lightly," Rogers said.