TCU cuts online course tuition for the fall

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Students taking online classes in the fall can expect a 10% discount per course.

Chancellor Victor Boschini announced the change Wednesday in an email to members of the TCU community and during a Zoom town hall with faculty and staff.

Faculty Senate Chair Sean Atkinson and Staff Assembly Chair Angie Taylor asked Boschini questions submitted by faculty and staff during the conversation.

Finances

In the email, sent prior to the town hall, Boschini said the board of trustees met this week and approved spending additional $50 million in financial aid to students for the fall semester. The board also approved spending up to $15 million for students who qualify for need-based aid.

In the town hall meeting, Boschini said students would receive a 10% increase in aid for each online course. If all students have to move to distance learning, the aid will be extended to those who had in-person classes as well.

“What I think it will show the parents is that we’re trying to work with them.”

Chancellor Victor Boschini

The money for this aid is coming from a loan secured in the spring to cover payroll if needed, Boschini said. He added that he did not want to use this money, but is doing so to show that he is listening to faculty and staff concerned about a lack of shared governance.

As of the meeting, the university is not planning on any furloughs or layoffs. However, the chancellor listed four factors that might change this decision:

  • The outcome of the first due date for tuition payments.
  • Whether there are sports in the fall.
  • Whether classes mover to online only in the fall.
  • Whether classes are online only in the spring.

Boschini said the university is still not planning on taking any of the $5.2 million TCU qualifies for through the CARES Act.

Health

Although TCU requires everyone on campus to wear face coverings inside, Atkinson said some faculty and staff members are concerned students or other community members showing “reckless behavior” may refuse.

If that happens, the chancellor said he would use peer pressure to encourage students to social distance or wear masks. For example, if a student is not wearing a mask in his class, Boschini said he would would not teach until the student adheres or leaves the classroom.

“It’s my opinion that in 99% of the times, they’ll conform, because the rest of the kids in that class, they want to be in there,” Boschini said.

Atkinson said faculty and staff are concerned because mask wearing has become a politicized issue in the U.S.

“I know there’s no easy answer to that, but I wonder if there’s a way we can better promote a message of safety,” Atkinson said.

In addition to implementing policies to help prevent the spread of the virus, TCU is developing spaces and procedures to follow when people become infected.

Boschini said the decision to transition to fully online course delivery will be based on guidance from local health officials as well as the amount of quarantine spaces available.

“We all just have to get used to living with a little bit more risk,” Boschini said.

Campus experience

Two of the most discussed topics during the meeting were athletics and the academic experience. Not only are sports and in-person classes among the top money generators for the university, but they are also key to the TCU experience.

The Amon G. Carter Stadium. (Photo by Heesoo Yang.)

The chancellor said he is open to having football games without fans because the university would still receive television revenue, and not having sports would cost TCU about $40 million. But Boschini noted the emotional toll this would take on the community.

“Let’s be honest, that’s a big part of fall,” he said.

Limiting attendance at games while social distancing was discussed, but Boschini said he was worried students would not keep apart from each other.

In the meeting, Atkinson asked instructors to reach out to students to inform them of their plans for the semester.

“Just because we’re online or in a physically distanced classroom, the high quality of a TCU education isn’t going to be compromised, and I think we all agree on that point,” Atkinson said.

Initiative to study TCU’s history

In an email to the campus community sent Wednesday morning, the chancellor and the chairman of the board announced an initiative to study TCU’s history involving racism, slavery and the Confederacy.

The group tasked with taking on this project will include students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees.

Boschini said this kind of investigation has not occurred during his time as chancellor. When asked what actionable steps the university would take, Boschini said he didn’t know.

“What concrete steps will come from that? I don’t know yet. But that’s part of the reason you do it,” Boschini said.