Significant Financial Challenges May Be Ahead for ESU

Photo Credit / Charlese Freeman

Ronald Hanaki 

Staff Writer 

The COVID-19 pandemic will significantly impact ESU’s finances incoming Interim ESU President Kenneth Long said at last Thursday’s Council of Trustees meeting.

“Over the past few weeks, the business office in collaboration with other areas went through Enrollment Management to issue refunds or credits to students related to their vacating the campus due to the virus,” he said. “ESU gave back approximately $8 million in credits and refunds to students. With the suspension of activity on campus, a stipend of $200 was provided to those students who were working at the university at the closure of those campus activities.” 

Long implied that the university’s financial situation would continue to be under stress as long as the university remained closed. 

“This will definitely have a strain on the university modality for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how we are going to navigate it if this goes into the fall semester. We will make it work, but we just don’t know what that will be for that period of time,” he said. 

In addition, most activities in the facilities department that are non-essential have been stopped since the governor’s declaration. For instance, work on the drainage of ESU’s sports fields has been suspended for now. 

Richard Santoro, executive director of the ESU Foundation, later in the meeting said that while ESU’s annual scholarship dinner was canceled, ESU was approved for a Payroll Protection loan. He also stated that the foundation’s goal this year was to raise $5 million.  

“I am pleased to report that we have surpassed that goal,” he said. “So, it has been back-to-back record years for the Foundation on the fundraising front. We are just shy of $5.1 million through the end of March.” 

However, Santoro noted that fundraising will be challenging going forward as the nation’s unemployment rate has gone up because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nevertheless, Santoro said that 21 new annual scholarships and 11 endowed scholarships have been created. The Foundation has also forwarded $992,607 to the university in scholarship support. 

ESU has created a Student Emergency Relief Fund in support of students impacted by the global pandemic, and the Foundation has raised $24,905 from 103 donors. There have been 200 student requests, and the Foundation has awarded $23,671 to 73 students so far. 

“We are doing our best to help the students in any way we can,” Santoro said. 

Email Ronald at: