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Lincoln University has retracted the 2.5 percent cut to employees' pay enacted earlier this year, after pandemic-induced cuts to the university's funding from the state were less than expected.

Lincoln's Board of Curators on Thursday approved a revised budget for the current 2020-21 fiscal year that is approximately $2 million more than what curators approved in June.

The additional money was the result of cuts to the university's funding from the state being about 13 percent, when LU had budgeted for a reduction of 20 percent.

Sandy Koetting, Lincoln's vice president for administration and finance, said, however, that until the university has a better picture of its enrollment, the remaining funds left from the budget increase after restoring the pay cuts — $828,464 — will be held in a contingency fund that's at the discretion of the university's president.

Koetting said the university had also budgeted for a 25 percent decrease in enrollment, but the decrease after late registration finished was tentatively looking to be 19-20 percent.

She said Lincoln's census of its enrollment is Sept. 18, which will inform the university of where it stands. In the meantime, 98 students are working to resolve issues, such as with financial aid, to make sure they stay enrolled.

LU's Board of Curators also approved two projects funded by grants through the state's Office of Administration and Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

The projects will help mitigate issues with COVID-19, Koetting said.

The first project is to upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings on campus such as Mitchell Hall, Richardson Fine Arts Center, Inman E. Page Library and Jason Gym, said Jeff Turner, director of Lincoln's Office of Facilities and Planning.

The upgrades to the large HVAC systems of such buildings will increase the amount of fresh air being pushed through and out of the buildings, Turner said.

The HVAC upgrades will not include residence halls, as those units are room-based, and the upgrades will also not include the installation of ionization or ultraviolet light filtration systems, as there's not enough time or space to install them, he added.

The second project is to install electronic key card access campus-wide, including for residence halls — eliminating the need for traditional keys to access campus buildings, although some buildings already have electronic access systems.

Turner said the improvements will help reduce the number of people in buildings — especially those who don't need to have access — and thereby reduce spread of COVID-19.

Cameras monitored by the Lincoln University Police Department will also be installed at electronically-controlled entrances.

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Some buildings, such as Young Hall, will have open access during regular business hours, but the electronic access will limit the number of people inside after hours — such as to allow only faculty and staff to come in at night or on weekends, Turner said.

Both projects will be implemented and operational by the end of November, he said.

Because of the short turnaround time from the university being notified of the grant opportunity this summer to the deadline to spend the money by Dec. 4, the projects were not bid out and vendors were selected from among those who were statewide contract-holders, Koetting said.

Lincoln was informed Sept. 4 by OA and DHWD that the projects would be reimbursable through the grant, she said.

Meanwhile, LU spokeswoman Misty Young, who co-leads the university's coronavirus task force with LUPD Chief Gary Hill, said there have been "minor" problems with students not wearing face masks properly and as required.

"It is a punishable offense" not to abide by the university's COVID-19 policies, Young said.

Students can be sent home for not abiding by COVID-19 policies, she added: "If you are not social distancing, if you're choosing to go out and party and have large gatherings, you can also be sent home."

Lincoln President Jerald Jones Woolfolk said students are for the most part cooperating with the university's pandemic health policies, "and they are holding each other accountable."

As of Thursday afternoon, two LU students had tested positive for COVID-19 and two were quarantined, according to the university's daily reporting online. One employee was quarantined.

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