Wells College in jeopardy, taking financial hit from COVID-19

Local News

AURORA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The financial burden of COVID-19 may be too much for some smaller colleges to bounce back from, including Wells College.

The small, liberal arts school in Aurora with about 400 students relies pretty heavily on room and board to keep its doors open.

“Without in-person education, the near and distant future is going to be very complicated,” said Wells College President Jonathan Gibralter.

For starters, the Florence, Italy program is in jeopardy and it generates 15 percent of the college’s revenue. “We’re projecting a financial model that possibly could include no residential education for our students. Certainly most likely includes no Florence program,” said Gibralter.

Right now, they’re doing everything they can to recruit a first-year class. It’s something they’re counting on.

In a recent letter to the Wells College Community, Gibraltar said:

If New York State continues its mandate that our campus remains closed through all or part of the fall semester, Wells simply will not receive enough revenue to continue operations.

Wells College President, Jonathan Gibralter
Excerpt from a letter by President Gibralter to the Wells College Community

The CARES Act gave Wells about $623,000, half of which Gibralter said went to the students, the other half offsetting part of the room and board refunds since they went virtual on March 16.

They’re now counting on alumni, the HEROES Act, and help from private foundations to take those grants a step further.

“We’re developing a plan to reopen, but on the one hand we have to balance the financial reality, on the other hand, we have to balance the health and safety… which I want to say is at the top of the chart,” said Gibralter. “We have a greater ability to monitor our community and test people and provide appropriate levels of disinfection.”

Gibralter tells NewsChannel 9 they’re also asking for PPE from the health department.

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla.

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