NEW WILMINGTON, PA- Lead College Correspondent Lauren Millhorn met with President Richardson on November 10 to discuss COVID vaccine boosters, updates on national vaccine mandates, and the financial state of the College.
Richardson shared that the College is remaining idle in administering vaccine boosters for now, as the shots are readily available at the New Wilmington Rite Aid for those in need.
“The boosters right now are only available to folks who are much older than our current typical college student,” she explained. “There are boosters available at the Rite Aid pharmacy in the Borough right now, for people who qualify. At this point, we haven’t made plans to offer them on campus because they’re readily available.”
Richardson provided a brief update on Biden’s national vaccine mandate for companies with 100+ employees, saying that OSHA released regulations on the order in early November. OSHA is now under lawsuits in several states for the regulations, and the process has been placed on hold by the Federal Appeals Court.
The College is still determining how OSHA’s regulations will apply to them in the future.
“OSHA issued regulations last week that are not as complete as one may have hoped. We’re in the process of working through what those regulations would mean for us: we’re trying to get clarification on the definition of an ‘employee’ for example—is it full-time? Is it part-time? Does it include student workers? We’re working through that.”
Richardson believes that clear regulations will help determine how a vaccine mandate would impact Westminster’s population.
“Our rates of student and employee vaccinations have stayed fairly steady this whole semester—and again, these are all [self-reported], so we don’t know if there are people who have been vaccinated who haven’t reported…I can’t really posit how a mandate would increase our level in the actual vaccination process, or how many students would respond at this point. I think we’ll know more as the regulation gets…explained.”
Richardson also discussed the College’s financial status, beginning with their recent purchase of the Sewell House across the Remick Admissions House. The College plans to list Sewell with a local realtor and use the profits to fund repairs on the Gateway homes that it rents out to reinvest into campus infrastructure.
The President shared that the College is in good financial standing and set to have a balanced operating budget this year. She credits the Board’s wise investment strategies that benefit endowments for Westminster’s financial position.
“The “draw” we get from our overall endowment is based on the value of that endowment over the previous twelve quarters—we call [them] the rolling twelve’s. Each of these quarters where our endowment is strong will allow us to do a stronger pull as we move forward. But, you do have [quarters] to balance, so you don’t have high highs or low lows. This has been a good time for us, and we’ll see. I hope it continues.”
The Board will continue to watch expenditures closely to maintain the College’s financial security.
The President is still awaiting the final enrollment numbers for spring 2021. She can verify the enrollment outlook once UPMC Jameson students register and fall graduates are finalized.