Financial Planning in the Wake of COVID-19

Members of the Michigan Tech Community:

The gravity of the situation in which higher education institutions find themselves, including Michigan Tech, is difficult at best. Yet, in spite of these trying times, our campus community has banded together to help each other and even those afar through innovation, creativity and kindness. Thank you.

I would like to outline the framework and planning horizon the leadership team is working from to address the fiscal deficit caused by COVID-19. Currently, we are assuming an enrollment decline for both the summer and fall terms, a correlating decline in auxiliary services revenue, and a modest reduction in state funding. Based on these assumptions, we have estimated a budget shortfall of approximately $18 million—but it could be as high as $38 million depending on additional fluctuations in enrollment, how the state’s higher education funding formula unfolds during the legislative session, and whether Michigan Tech returns to face-to-face instruction to start the fall semester. 

In early April, we enacted cost controls to address the current fiscal year deficit. These included a hiring, spending, and wage freeze, among additional measures. Thanks to your efforts, we have minimized the fiscal year 2020 shortfall. However, we must now turn our attention to the projected deficit for fiscal year 2021.

Effective immediately, I will take a 15 percent pay reduction and the vice presidents will take a 7 percent pay reduction, at least through December 31, 2020. This is in addition to a number of other cost-saving options under consideration, which will be reviewed and prioritized by the President’s Budget Advisory Committee. All of our decisions will be guided by the following principles:

  1. Protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our campus community to the best of our ability
  2. Supporting and continuing high-quality educational and research activities at Michigan Tech 
  3. Respecting all health and safety requirements issued by the state of Michigan and modifying our operations in compliance with these guidelines. 

Over the next few weeks, we will solidify our decisions in preparation for the May Board of Trustees meeting, where we must present a balanced fiscal year 2021 budget to the Board for approval. Actions necessary to achieve a balanced budget with a projected shortfall of $18 million may include reductions to operating budgets and workforce needs, and/or temporary pay cuts. In full disclosure, we must acknowledge that additional cuts to services and programs may be necessary over the course of the year due to additional, unforeseen factors or if we experience greater declines in enrollment or state funding over and above what we are currently projecting. 

I will continue to provide regular updates regarding the status of campus operations and the fiscal implications related to COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks. I remain optimistic about Michigan Tech’s long-term future. We are positioned well financially, our reputation is strong, and I am confident in our ability to discover creative solutions, even in the face of adversity. 

Take care and stay safe.

2020 Pep Band Banquet: Mind(craft) Over Matter

Typically at the end of the school year, many University departments and student organizations would hold banquets or similar celebrations to mark the semester's end. This year, of course, has been anything but typical. But that’s not to say there weren't any year-end festivities—they’ve just been a bit more creative.

That said, there may not be a campus organization that exudes zany creativity more than the Huskies Pep Band. Traditionally, about 150 band members gather for food, awards and the announcement of next year’s leaders. Band president Jake Aguado said COVID-19 presented the band with an opportunity to hold the banquet in a unique manner. “The Pep Band board proposed we hold the banquet virtually, but instead of something as simple as a Zoom meeting we thought it would be interesting to instead use Minecraft as the base for our virtual meet-up.” 

Minecraft is regarded as the bestselling video game of all time with more than 180 million copies sold across all platforms.

Band treasurer Michael "Ziggy" Walker, bought a Minecraft server, allowing anyone with a Minecraft account to meet together in the same virtual space. He also set up a Discord server, which would allow people without an account to talk to each other during the event.

Aguado said about 100 people joined in the Minecraft server and another 30 without accounts watched on Discord. Although it was a bit different, the band pulled it off. “We thought the concept of a venue as unusual as Minecraft would be pretty funny, and would make for at least one good memory in the future,” Aguado said.

During the virtual banquet, 40 awards were given out, both serious and silly, such as the 2020 MVP Award to The Bret Wazny Memorial "I Love Basketball" Award,” or The Bucket O' Salt Award.

Aguado said the banquet was a success. “The event lasted about an hour 20 minutes, shorter than a typical banquet, but still very enjoyable. Awards were distributed, laughs were had, and people had an excuse to hang out together again, even if it wasn't in person. We had a great time despite the circumstances that brought us there, and we're looking forward to the future when we can meet physically again and play some music.”  

Design Expo 2020 Award Winners

More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design showcased their hard work April 16 at Michigan Tech’s first-ever virtual Design Expo.

Teams competed for cash awards totaling nearly $4,000. Judges for the event included corporate representatives, community members and Michigan Tech staff and faculty. The College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College announced the award winners below. Congratulations and a huge thanks to all the teams for a very successful Design Expo 2020.

Special note: SOAR, a longtime high school Enterprise team from Dollar Bay High School, also took part in this year’s virtual Design Expo. The team is advised by math/science teacher Matt Zimmer. Be sure to check out the SOAR video here (scroll down to team 124).

Please check out the full results here.

ENTERPRISE AWARDS (Based on video submissions)

  • First Place: Blizzard Baja; Advisor Kevin Johnson, Mechanical Engineering Technology 
  • Second Place: Mining INnovation Enterprise (MINE); Advisor Paulus Van Susante, ME-EM
  • Third Place (tie): Innovative Global Solutions; Advisors Radheshyam Tewari, ME-EM and Nathan Manser, GMES
  • Third Place (tie): Aerospace Enterprise; Advisor L. Brad King, ME-EM
  • Honorable Mention: Husky Game Development (HGD); Advisor Scott Kuhl, CS

SENIOR DESIGN AWARDS (Based on video submissions)

  • First Place: Eddy Current Inspection In-line Integration
; Advisor Wayne Weaver, ME-EM. 
  • Second Place: Hospital Washer Auto Sampler Usage & Data Optimization; Advisors Bruce Lee and Sangyoon Han, BioMed
  • Third Place: Direct Casting with Additive Manufactured Patterns; Advisor Bob Page, ME-EM.
  • Honorable Mention (1): Radiofrequency Ablation Modeling and Validation of Cannula Designs; Advisor Jeremy Goldman, BioMed
  • Honorable Mention (2): Airport Needs Design Challenge; Advisor Paul van Susante, ME-EM
  • Honorable Mention (3): Validation Test System for Boston Scientific IPP; Advisors Orhan Soykan and Sangyoon Han, BioMed
  • Honorable Mention (4): Road Marking Reflectivity Evaluator; Advisor Tony Pinar, ECE

DESIGN EXPO IMAGE CONTEST (Based on image submitted by the team)

  • First Place: Formula SAE Enterprise
  • Second Place: Flammability Reduction in Magnesium Alloys for Additive Manufacturing
  • Third Place: Velovations Enterprise

Based on application)

  • First Place: Increasing the Young's Modulus of Cast Aluminum for Stiffness-Limited Applications; Advisor Paul Sanders, MSE
  • Second Place: Transcatheter Sign Ventricle Device; Advisors Smitha Rao and Jeremy Goldman, BioMed
  • Third Place: Innovative Global Solutions (IGS); Advisors Radheshyam Tewari, ME-EM and Nathan Manser, GMES

 DESIGN EXPO PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD (Based on receiving most text-in voting during Design Expo)

  • Winner: Connector and Coupling Actuator for Mobile Electrical Microgrids; Advisor Cameron Hadden (ME-EM)

Joint Wisconsin, Indiana-Illinois and Michigan Sea Grant Research

Guy Meadows (GLRC/ME-EM/GMES) and Pengfei Xue (CEE/GLRC) will represent Michigan Sea Grant in a combined research effort with Wisconsin and Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant Programs to take a comprehensive look at winds, waves and shoreline dynamics for all of Lake Michigan.

This two year effort is funded at $150,000 per year by each Sea Grant Program.


Campus Bookstore Working to Source Summer Course Materials

We’re offering a friendly reminder to faculty that summer course material adoptions are now listed on our website and are available for review as The Campus Bookstore continues to find ways to help students and faculty acquire course materials.

When the Store is able to re-open, we may have limited physical textbook inventory available. We’re working diligently with our digital partners to ensure that many texts will be available as e-books, which will be listed as options online below your required book(s) listing.

The compare tool on our website allows students to shop the marketplace for their required books and find the best price. Because we know students may face additional challenges trying to locate physical books, we’re sending them an email to encourage them to review their required books for summer term and explore solutions to help find the titles they need.

For questions about course materials or to submit an adoption, please email Jennifer Cowan at The Campus Bookstore or call 7-3122.


Hands-On and Project-Based Learning Online,Today

Please join us for the next in our series of virtual IDEA hub/CTL Online Education Sessions from 3 to 4:30  p.m. today (April 24) followed by our IDEA Pub social (half) hour from 4:30 - 5 p.m. Given the urgent need to generate ideas for offering hands-on, project-based, and experiential learning experiences in online and remote environments, we've asked two guest speakers to share their expertise in this area with us.

3 to 4:30 p.m. Friday (April 24) — Hands-On and Project-Based Learning Online.

Immediately following the education session, join us in our virtual “IDEA Pub” for a happy half hour from 4:30 - 5 p.m. (No registration necessary). For details, see Thursdays' Tech Today.

In Print

 Adam Wellstead (SS), Altaf Virani (National University of Singapore) and Michael Howlett (Simon Fraser University) published "The north-south policy divide in transnational healthcare: a comparative review of policy research on medical tourism in source and destination countries." in Globalization and Health.


Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) is a co-author on the paper "Paleomagnetic evidence for modern-like plate motion velocities at 3.2 Ga" published in Science Advances on April 22. This collaborative study (with Harvard University and Yale University) demonstrates that the drifting of tectonic plates (plate tectonics) may have started at least 3.2 billion years ago, earlier than previously thought.

ADVANCE Weekly Roundup

From an infection standpoint, CoVid-19 seems to be affecting men more than women. But how is it impacting productivity in academe? Recent data from several journals are indicating that submissions from women may be declining.

This edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup focuses on the increased responsibilities such as childcare and extra cooking and housework at home that are disproportionately being picked up by women to the detriment of time to spend on research and writing seems to be falling behind.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact us to learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources. 

In the News

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was quoted in the story "These open-source projects are helping to tackle the coronavirus" in ZDnet.


Nathan Manser (GMES) was quoted in the story "Is a Proposed Lithium Mine in Nevada the Future of Renewable Energy?" in NECN.


The mobile unit built by Michigan Tech to clean COVID-19 PPE was mentioned in the article"Top Army officials praise Whitmer, Duggan during tour of TCF field hospital in Detroit," in the Detroit Free Press and on MSN.