Facing uncertainty, WMU extends current budget

Coronavirus

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees on Thursday approved extending the university’s current budget for 90 days.

WMU is looking at a budget shortfall of between $45 million to $85 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which was supposed to start July 1. It has already laid off some 240 employees and issued pay cuts to others to help deal with a large shortfall for the current year.

Pushing back the implementation of a new budget will allow the school to keep paying bills and staff until administrators get more direction from the state, which funds a quarter of the general operating budget.

School officials say they will have a 2020-2021 budget prepared for the board meeting in September.

Also part of the discussion at Thursday’s board meeting was the White House’s freeze on H-1B work visas and Optional Practical Training programs. The president of WMU’s graduate student government called on trustees to condemn those moves.

“In early June, the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students across the country launched the initiative #OPT & H-1B For You And Me to urge the White House and U.S. Congress to support H-1B visas and OPT programs,” Graduate Student Association President Craig Morris said. “GSA strongly condemns the effort to suspend these programs. We ask you to join us as we continue our efforts.”

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