Pitt to spend second half of federal relief money on fall restart


Kaycee Orwig | Visual Editor

The Cathedral of Learning watches over an empty Pitt campus.

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Pitt officials said Wednesday that the University will spend the second half of its federal CARES Act funding, around $10.6 million, on fall restart costs.

University spokesperson Pat McMahon said Pitt is investing in classroom video equipment, training materials for faculty and other items for Flex@Pitt, the University’s new teaching model. The program is said to allow students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.” The money will also go towards “measures that help protect the health and safety of the University community.”

McMahon said it is possible the federal funding will not be enough to cover all fall restart costs. The first $10.6 million in CARES Act funding was reserved for emergency financial aid grants to students, and sent out in early May.

The new Flex@Pitt teaching model is one part of Pitt’s reopening plans for the fall semester, which include an earlier remote-only start to classes, a shift to in-person classes one week into the semester and sending students home for the year at Thanksgiving. University officials said last week that students would not be required to attend classes in person.

The costs will add to Pitt’s mounting expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic. McMahon said the University has incurred around $48 million in pandemic-related costs thus far.

Student and faculty leaders said they were supportive of measures to make classrooms ready for Flex@Pitt.

Eric Macadangdang, the president of Student Government Board, said there is “no doubt” it will be an “expensive” endeavor to outfit classrooms, but it is a needed investment to get Pitt through the crisis.

“It is a vital investment to make sure faculty have the fullest capacity to deliver their coursework and to make sure that students, whether they can attend classes in-person or not, have the most enriching learning experience amidst a global pandemic,” Macadangdang said.

Chris Bonneau, the president of the University Senate, declined to comment on the amount of money to be spent on Flex@Pitt, but said he was in favor of utilizing CARES Act funds for these expenses.

“Preparing our faculty and equipping our classrooms to allow us to continue to offer our high-quality educational product seems to me to be a good use of those funds,” Bonneau said.