LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville plans a “hybrid” approach to its fall semester with classes held online and in-person at reduced capacity to limit exposure to the novel coronavirus.
U of L also will stop on-campus activities at the Thanksgiving break, allowing students to finish the semester at home or in their dorms with online instruction and exams.
Provost Beth Boehm disclosed the changes for the semester, which starts Aug. 17, during a budget workshop Thursday before a committee of U of L trustees.
Boehm added that circumstances with the novel virus may force a return online-only instruction. If that happens, faculty will be better prepared after U of L moved about 500 traditional classes online for the current summer term, Boehm said.
But the current plan calls for a mix of online and traditional instruction. For example, a class may hold a lecture over the Internet one day a week while splitting into two groups for separate, in-person sessions.
“We are limited of course by our physical spaces; we can’t just reassign every class to a bigger classroom,” Boehm said.
The last day for in-person classes will be the week of Thanksgiving, Boehm said, so that students can socialize with high school friends and family without bringing those contacts back to campus.
“People can stay home and not come back to the classroom and put others at risk,” she said.
U of L will keep its dorms open, however, to accommodate students who need to stay on campus, she said.
.@uofl's plan for the fall semester includes hyrbid online-in person classes at reduced numbers and online only - no return to campus -- following Thanksgiving break, trustees are told in a virtual workshop happening now— Chris Otts (@christopherotts) May 28, 2020
The university also plans a tuition and fee increase of 2%, which would bring the annual cost for a fulltime Kentucky resident student to $11,966.
That continues to a two-decade trend in which the inflation-adjusted cost of attending U of L has doubled.
Tuition has gone up in part to compensate for cuts in state funding, and the university anticipates losing more state aid in the coming academic year as Kentucky struggles with a precipitous drop in tax revenue from the economic slowdown.
U of L’s $126 million in state money makes up about 10% of its current budget. The university anticipates losing another $3.2 million to $12.7 million in state funding in the next academic year.
In another change, U of L will no longer charge different tuition rates for online classes. Those classes had been delivered at a premium relative regular, in-state rates (though much lower than out-of-state rates).
Enrollment steady so far
While colleges fret over the possibility that students will take gap years or cancel plans to enroll, U of L projects a decline of only 303 undergraduates in the fall, according to figures shared with the board Thursday. That’s roughly 1.3% of the 22,684 undergraduates who enrolled in the fall of 2019.
The university is planning for a drop of 1.5% in the best case to 10% in the worst case, according to administrators.
“From what we are hearing, U of L is actually doing – knock on wood – very well. The challenge for us is we are trying to make sure it all materializes (and) people show up … Right now, we look very favorable,” President Neeli Bendapudi said during the virtual meeting.