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Baylor University announces up to $80 million in budget cuts in wake of coronavirus pandemic

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Baylor University in Waco. Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Baylor University is cutting $65 to $80 million from its budget for the fiscal year that starts June 1, anticipating a dip in enrollment due to the coronavirus.

Baylor President Linda Livingstone's announcement Tuesday is one of the first disclosures from a major Texas university that it is slashing spending in response to the pandemic. In a statement, Livingstone said the virus has slowed the private university’s income and increased students’ dependence on financial aid.

“In other words, most of our previously reliable sources of revenue, tuition, research grants and contracts, fundraising and income from our investments and endowment will almost certainly be significantly affected,” Livingstone said in a statement.

Jason Cook, a spokesperson for the university, said it is too early to know what cuts will be made, but they will stretch across the entire university, including “colleges, schools, administrative units and athletics.”

Cook said the university will prioritize the well-being of its 17,000 students.

“That will be the next step in the process,” Cook said.

He said the school is particularly dependent on enrollment to keep its budget balanced.

“As a private university, our top revenue source is tuition, and we’re starting to see various surveys and studies that are projecting a decline in enrollment for universities across the country this fall,” Cook said. “And we’ve also noticed some slowdowns in other revenue streams such as fundraising.”

Cook said the school hasn’t seen any changes in enrollment so far but is expecting a drop in enrollment for the fall. But the dip won’t cripple the school, he said.

“I would characterize the situation as the university is taking proactive measures to ensure not that Baylor survives, but rather the university is in a position to thrive once the pandemic has been resolved.”

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