As the campus emptied last spring, responding to the most pressing needs of Scripps students took priority. Scripps spent approximately $3 million to aid in their transition off campus, including refunding prorated room and board and covering the costs of moving and emergency travel. Once students were safely home, Scripps’ second response phase addressed distance learning needs, with the College investing in new technology and equipment so that all students could continue their studies and access College support services online.
Behind the scenes, further changes necessitated by COVID-19 were escalating impacts to the College’s budget. Campus events and conferences, which bring in vital revenue while students are on break, were canceled, and the economic downturn had a significant impact on philanthropy. By May 2020, the total losses to the College hovered around $10 million.
To offset these costs, Scripps made an immediate, College-wide 10 percent budget cut, reduced salaries for Scripps’ president and senior staff, and placed a moratorium on non-essential expenditures and hiring. The newly created COVID-19 Response Fund provided urgent relief for students and garnered generous support from the Scripps College community.
“The COVID-19 Response Fund was created to invite the Scripps Community to support the College and cover these unexpected expenses,” says Enrique Gonzalez-Salgado, associate vice president for philanthropy at Scripps. “Alums, families, and friends of the College responded with overwhelming support during our Day of Giving in 2020, with over 400 donors contributing more than $156,000 to The Scripps Fund, scholarships, and the COVID-19 Response Fund. Additionally, many families who were eligible to receive room and board reimbursements after students moved off campus generously decided to donate those funds back to the College.” Over the last several months, the College has also received generous gifts and commitments that have resulted in over $1 million in contributions to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
Yet, as the College prepares for the Scripps community to return to campus this fall, COVID-19-related expenses will continue to place a burden on the College’s budget. Though Los Angeles County health orders remain in flux, the College’s plans at present include screening tests for unvaccinated individuals on campus and facilities upgrades. Costs for medical staffing, equipment, transportation, contact tracing software, and student mental health counseling will cost nearly $3 million over the coming fiscal year, and campus infrastructure modifications that increase airflow, provide space for social distancing, create outdoor learning environments, and provide additional security are projected to soar past $4 million for the same period.
“A gift of any size to the COVID-19 Response Fund today will help cover the expenses necessary to bring our students back safely and offer the educational experience at Scripps that our alums know and cherish and the reason why our students chose to be a part of this special community,” adds Gonzalez-Salgado.