This Chart Predicts Which Colleges Will Survive the Coronavirus
Universities are an expensive operation with a relatively inflexible cost structure, and it’s forcing many schools to make poor choices
Our fumbling, incompetent response to the pandemic continues. In six weeks, a key component of our society is in line to become the next vector of contagion: higher education. Right now, half of colleges and universities plan to offer in-person classes, something resembling a normal college experience, this fall. This cannot happen. In-person classes should be minimal, ideally none.
The economic circumstances for many of these schools are dire, and administrators will need imagination — and taxpayer dollars — to avoid burning the village to save it. Per current plans, hundreds of colleges will perish.
There is a dangerous conflation of the discussion about K-12 and university reopenings. The two are starkly different. There are strong reasons to reopen K-12, and there are stronger reasons to keep universities shuttered. University leadership needs to evolve from denial (“It’s business as usual”) and past bargaining (“We’ll have a hybrid model with some classes in person”) to citizenship (“We are the warriors against this virus, not its enablers”).
Think about this. Next month, as currently envisioned, 2,800-plus cruise ships retrofitted with whiteboards and a younger cohort will set sail in the midst of a raging pandemic. The density and socialization on these cruise ships could render college towns across America the next virus hot spots.
Why are administrators putting the lives of faculty, staff, students, and our broader populace at risk?
The ugly truth is many college presidents believe they have no choice. College is an expensive operation with a relatively inflexible cost structure. Tenure and union contracts render the largest cost (faculty and administrator salaries) near-immovable objects. The average salary of a full professor (before…