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UC San Diego Chancellor On Devastating Impact of Coronavirus

 April 20, 2020 at 11:12 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Lawmakers in Congress say they are close to reaching agreement on a new $400 billion economic aid package, which will focus on small business relief. That's good news for business, but it does still leave major sectors of the nation's economic engine in limbo. One part of that engine is education and the Corona virus has had a devastating impact on the budgets of schools and universities, including the UC system. Since the virus forced the campus to close in March, UC San Diego has lost revenue from cancelled student housing and dining contracts. Medical centers paused, elective surgeries and campus costs soared for online learning. Can the university rely on the state to make up those losses? And how likely is it that the UC San Diego campus will reopen in September? Journey me is the chancellor of UC San Diego, Pradeep Khosla and chancellor Cosla. Welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:59 Thank you. Thank you. Speaker 1: 01:01 Now let's start with the financial impact of the Corona virus on UC San Diego. I only mentioned some of the economic impacts. What's your estimate of the losses and costs the school is incurring? Speaker 2: 01:13 So in terms of our operations, our goal, first and foremost, we're looking after the health and wellbeing of our faculty and staff and to deal with that, uh, we mean our entire academic organization to remote learning, which means no faculty member comes on campus to teach. It's all being taught from home podcasts and zoom and things like that. Secondly, we encourage the students to leave housing, eh, enough lab that we were able to do what we call complete decompression. Others no more than one student per room until the whole campus. Uh, our research enterprise, which is the one point $4 billion enterprise and it generates about $250 billion a year, what we call indirect costs as basically come to a grinding, halt, standstill. And our administration, it's all happening virtually. So everybody is sitting somewhere or the other. I see them on the, and that's where everything is happened. Speaker 2: 02:07 So what are the various impacts now? Some are for sure, others are not. So, for example, it is likely that our state funding might be rolled back instead of the budget being increased the way it was approved in January might go back last year. It is not a guarantee, but it could happen very like there was going to be tuition increase in may that most likely will not happen. International out of state students might decide that they're better off staying at home and not coming here. So that would be a significant loss of revenue. Our indirect cost recovery or housing, dining operations or delivery operations, our investment income for $2 billion endowment has cut down to, I don't know, 1.51 point $6 billion. So we would lose investment income. So you can see there's a whole lot of losses on top of the losses within the hospital system where we have 140 beds open. We'll deal with the surge of the coronavirus. Speaker 1: 03:00 Are you putting a monetary figure on those losses yet? Speaker 2: 03:03 I am, but like I said, uh, some we know others we don't and most we don't. So our estimate is it could be anywhere from 500 to $700 million. Speaker 1: 03:16 Is there any hope for education to be included in a federal relief funds? If we see a couple of more of these aid packages come down from Congress? I Speaker 2: 03:25 don't know if there's any hope, but I certainly hope that there is hope because you know, if you think about our economy and our GDP, EDS and meds are a large part of our GDP, so we need to make sure that we are not, uh, making this infrastructure fall apart. Uh, because of coronavirus clearly I hope there is, uh, in my mind I hope there is significant, uh, thought being put into, uh, helping universities. Speaker 1: 03:53 Now, as you mentioned, colleges and universities all across the nation, they're taking similar economic hits from the covert 19 campus closures. And so what do you see as a potential overall impact on higher education? Speaker 2: 04:07 I think this is going to force people to rethink. I think people thought higher education or high quality, higher education was only in person and only residential. We'll have to rethink. I'm not saying that remote learning the way it is right now, it's gonna completely replace or displace in person. But I think a hybrid mode might be more useful, a more appropriate to think about. I think people who are cut out of higher education because a lot of it was in person a might actually be part of it now, especially ones who have jobs that who could only do remote or online and now in the hybrid mode they might be, we might open up opportunities for them. So I see a lot of fundamental rethinking happening in higher education. I think if it, if this crisis does not create rethinking, uh, then I'd have to worry about higher education. Speaker 1: 04:58 Now, UC San Diego operates a major academic medical center with hospitals that care for coven 19 patients. What's happening at the hospitals are, are they at or over capacity? Speaker 2: 05:09 Not at all. In fact, like I said, a, if I remember correctly, we have about 148 beds allocated for covered patients. And I think, I don't want to misstate a number, but we might be like 20 ish right now. Uh, in the hospital. So we are not at all, um, that completely within our capacity. We have also allocated a whole new building to the County, uh, for them to put a mild public cases, mild to moderate public cases for quarantining in that building in our brand new housing building. Then even that I think is, uh, hardly it's been used but it's not close to capacity at all. Speaker 1: 05:47 And UC San Diego was involved early in creating tests for coven. What's the status of that effort? Speaker 2: 05:54 Uh, it is ongoing. Uh, we have ramped up our testing and we now have both a, what we call PCR based testing or nucleic acid testing. And we also have a, the other tribal testing which is looking grantee bodies. So we are trying to ramp these things up on a daily basis and we might be close like 2000 a day right now. Speaker 1: 06:16 Do you have a timeline on when they might have it be available? You know, routinely, Speaker 2: 06:20 no, they are available routinely. The question is not that, the question is how many, uh, are available. And I think that depends on a whole lot of criteria, primarily the manufacturing capacity, uh, in the country and how they are being allocated. Speaker 1: 06:34 What about the fall quarter at UC San Diego? Have you made that determination that there you're not going to be opening up the campus and it's going to be all online? Speaker 2: 06:43 No, we have not. Uh, but we are keeping all of our options open. Like I said, our first and foremost priority is health, safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff. So if we believe that this crisis or the pandemic is not going to be under control and the likelihood of the contagion spreading is extremely high, uh, then we will have one strategy. If we think everything is under control, then we would have a different strategy. It could be anything ranging from completely open and in person. Like it was fall 92 completely remote, uh, like it is right now or some combination in between. So we are evaluating all of these possibilities. Speaker 1: 07:24 And how was the faculty handling online learning? I know that San Diego unified had to help some of its teachers transition to online learning. Is UC San Diego and countering that too? Speaker 2: 07:35 Yes, we are because some people are not used to it. Uh, but I can tell you psychologically and emotionally the faculty are handling this extremely well. They have been very strong partners, uh, in this whole transition, which by the way is and was not an easy transition. And I'm so proud of my colleagues in the administration and in the faculty who have made this transition very successful. Speaker 1: 08:00 What will the university do about research projects that are in progress? There are deadlines and funding to be satisfied, aren't there? Speaker 2: 08:09 Yes, there are. But, uh, the federal government has been, uh, reasonably flexible about it. Uh, so they've allowed us to, uh, retarget some of those resources towards, uh, current 19 type of research, uh, on the others. Uh, I'm hoping that they would allow us to get what is called a no cost extension, which is very, uh, normal. It's routine where the time period of the project is over but you still have some work left and they give you a no cost extension, uh, providing days or sort of finish up the work, write the reports and so on. So it's very routine. Speaker 1: 08:43 During this conversation you've talked about so many things that are unknown at this point. You don't know for sure whether or not the campus is going to be open in September. You don't know if a foreign students are going to come back in the numbers that they used to be. There are so many unknowns. How are you handling that when you are responsible for the longterm planning of this major institution? Speaker 2: 09:03 So number one, I can tell you that the campus would be operational in September. That I can tell you, I don't know if we would be physically all the together, but that's what you mean by open. Uh, secondly, the way I am managing it is by having what I think of as multiple hypothesis and scenarios in my head floating around and every day, every hour when I talk to people, I'm improving on these hypothesis. We have emergency operations center meetings every day, and we discuss these issues and we keep on updating our strategy, uh, to make sure that we are not going to be caught unaware when the time comes. Speaker 1: 09:42 Do you have a deadline for making these decisions for the coming semester? Speaker 2: 09:46 I would think that sometime around the June we have to make up our mind as to how this is going to go forward. Speaker 1: 09:54 Okay. I've been speaking with the chancellor of UC San Diego deep Cosla. Thank you so much. Thank you. Speaker 3: 10:06 [inaudible].

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The financial impact of the coronavirus on higher education is enormous. At UC San Diego students and faculty are working from home. There is no revenue from tuition or dining contracts. The university's vast medical system is not taking elective surgeries. Yet, online costs are soaring, and research goes on.
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