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President Hendrix addresses staff council about reopening Shepherd, avoiding layoffs

ISSUED: 12 May 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix is encouraging all of Shepherd’s students, faculty, and staff to have confidence in the outlook for the university. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges to consider during the past eight weeks, the university has several administrative teams—complemented with external experts—working cooperatively and interactively to plan for safe operations as the fall semester begins.

“It has been very exciting to see hundreds of graduates complete their degrees last week,” said Hendrix. “Even in difficult economic times, college graduates have an enormous advantage competing in the workforce marketplace. Shepherd’s students have always held an especially strong advantage because of the breadth and depth of their educational foundation and commitment to community service that they carry with them as they leave their college years.”

Addressing Shepherd’s Classified Employees Council on May 12, Hendrix noted that although there have been a record number of layoffs across the country and in West Virginia, Shepherd employees do not face any immediate risk of mass layoffs.

“Many large universities are heavily dependent upon external contracts, summer conferencing, and athletically related revenues, most of which were deeply damaged this spring,” said Hendrix. “Shepherd has succeeded in minimizing its losses in spring and summer of 2020.”

She further stated that Shepherd initiated deep streamlining of its workforce expenses in 2019, leaving the university with a relatively lean staff and faculty roster. “Shepherd has had a long tradition of creative frugality, finding ways to maximize results within a limited funding environment,” she said. “We have remained focused on our core mission­—training today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders, and our local community has been integral to our success.”

Hendrix noted that the State of West Virginia faces a wide array of complex financial factors with uncertain dynamics, and we must remain realistic that Shepherd could face financial challenges in the months ahead, but there is a good basis for optimism based on the actions we have taken over the past year.

“Governor Jim Justice and his team are leading with a commitment to the welfare of the people of West Virginia,” said Hendrix.  “We are inspired by their commitment to find effective solutions to the state’s challenges. Shepherd will continue to work with a focus on helping our students succeed.”

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