Nassau County colleges dispute predictions that pandemic will threaten their future

Elliot Weld
Long Island University-Post was predicted to struggle during the upcoming year financially, an assertion it's staff disputes. (Photo courtesy of Long Island University)

Hofstra, Adelphi and Long Island University are listed as potentially facing extreme financial challenges due to COVID-19 in a study published by NYU professor Scott Galloway.

All three dispute the findings and insist they will not succumb to financial struggle.

According to Galloway, colleges become vulnerable to financial burden when they have a low endowment per student and high reliance on international students, who generally pay full tuition. All three colleges have an endowment per student well below the average of $153,967.

The professor, who has spoken on the business side of higher education to outlets such as CNN, made it clear he does not think colleges should hold any in-person classes during the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said most colleges are probably doing so out of fears they won’t survive the lowered revenues of going purely online for a full semester.

Galloway said the schools most at risk face a “sodium pentothol cocktail of high admit rates, high tuition, low endowments, dependence on international students, and weak brand equity.”

According to Galloway, many colleges are going to need taxpayer dollars and creativity to stay alive.

“Per current plans, hundreds of colleges will perish,” Galloway wrote in the post.

Galloway acknowledges that his study “should not be taken as peer-reviewed or final.”

This is an admission that Adelphi Vice President of Communications Kristin Cappezza pointed to as a reason that Galloway’s claims are not accurate.

“We were incredibly disappointed in the recklessness that Galloway showed in releasing that,” Cappezza told Blank Slate Media. “We have thrived for 125 years and we plan to thrive for 125 more.”

Cappezza said Galloway’s data is flawed and she is confident Adelphi will navigate the COVID-19 storm.

Adelphi plans to bring students back to campus dorms for the fall semester and hold some in-person classes. Students will have the option to take all their classes remotely if they don’t feel comfortable with that.

Galloway lists Adelphi as having an international student population of 3 percent and an endowment per full-time student of $28,738. The average percentage of international students is 6 percent. Galloway’s study cites these numbers as being taken from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Hofstra took similar issue with Galloway’s article. A representative of the university cited high financial ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.

“This so-called study is irresponsible in terms of any comments about Hofstra University,” the university said in an email. “Our most recent Middle States reaccreditation, completed in 2018, states ‘the culture at Hofstra now seems to equip the school to weather economic and enrollment challenges in the Northeast better than most peers – and to enable the University to continue to flourish in coming years.’”

Hofstra has put plans on its website to welcome back students to in-person classes and living on campus in the fall. Its endowment per full-time student is $65,527 and its student body is 5 percent international.

Long Island University Post does not agree with Galloway’s findings either; it also cited accolades received from Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Princeton Review and Forbes.

“Long Island University’s unprecedented success and emergence as a national teaching and research institution leads to the opposite conclusion of the professor’s prediction,” a spokesperson said.

LIU Post’s percentage of international students was significantly higher than the average, at 16 percent. Its endowment per full-time student is $27,350.

The chart, published with an accompanying blog post by Galloway, an author and business professor at New York University, listed around 450 colleges and their resilience to the COVID-19 economic disaster. The study showed the three universities do not have much resilience.

Since international students generally pay full tuition and don’t usually qualify for financial aid, if a university is financially dependent on students from other countries, Galloway said this may be a difficult year, since many international students may decide not to return next semester.

Colleges were predicted to either thrive, survive, struggle or face significant challenges. In Galloway’s article, he said that 56 percent of American universities plan to hold in-person classes in the fall and makes it clear that he doesn’t think that is safe in all cases. But, he said, the ones that are forging ahead with in-person classes may feel they don’t have a choice since the financial circumstances are so dire.

“Why are administrators putting the lives of faculty, staff, students and our broader populace at risk? The ugly truth is many college presidents believe they have no choice,” Galloway said. “College is an expensive operation with a relatively inflexible cost structure.”

The pandemic has already claimed a few colleges. Among those are MacMurray College in Illinois, which shuttered after the spring semester after a 174-year run. Marlboro College of Marlboro Vermont, a small and non-conforming college with an enrollment of under 200, said it will close and is giving its endowment to Emerson College. Marlboro was listed under “struggle” in Galloway’s study with 3 percent of its students being international and a $268,712 endowment per student.

About the author

Elliot Weld

Share this Article