Larry Bartel/Hesston College
As financial strain continues to ripple across the higher ed landscape, we bring you the latest in a series of round-up articles about colleges and universities imposing financial cuts in recent days.
A number of institutions, including a handful of religious colleges, announced their plans leading into winter break.
Struggling Bacone College laid off most of its faculty earlier this month as it navigates legal challenges stemming from unpaid bills, which nearly resulted in the campus going up for auction.
Interim president Nicky Michael told Inside Higher Ed earlier this month that the small college in Oklahoma had laid off 40 of its 60 professors as it considered options for survival, including moving online. The number of employees laid off now appears to have climbed to 45, according to a Facebook post from the college in response to a student question.
Though the campus auction was called off, the fate of Bacone College remains unclear as the private institution with fewer than 100 students continues to seek recognition as a tribal college.
Cuts are planned amid a restructuring that will shrink Manhattan College from six to three schools. Though officials have not publicly confirmed the number of jobs to be eliminated, a Manhattan College graduate told Bronx News 12 that 34 faculty jobs are expected to be cut.
Those cuts are expected to include tenured professors.
While the private Catholic university in New York City has indicated that the restructuring is intended to “enhance the student experience,” it seems that enrollment may also be a factor; the head count at Manhattan College has slipped from more than 4,100 students in fall 2019, the last semester before the coronavirus pandemic began, to about 3,700 students currently.
Citing the need to reduce expenses by $1.75 million and invest in potential growth areas, Methodist University is cutting programs and eliminating 30 positions, according to CityView. An unspecified number of those 30 positions were already vacant, officials told the news outlet.
Majors to be discontinued include fine art, music education and special education.
Officials at the private, Christian college in North Carolina said they are divesting from low-growth areas to redirect those savings to other priorities, such as a new medical school.
Christian Brothers University
The university has projected a looming budget deficit of $5 to $7 million, and the cuts are part of an effort to trim $4 million from wages and benefits, as directed by the Board of Trustees. CBU’s accreditor placed the institution on probation earlier this month, partly over its financial issues.
The private Catholic university in Memphis, Tenn., has seen stagnant enrollment in recent years. Its head count currently hovers at about 1,900 students, down from more than 2,150 in fall 2017. Christian Brothers had been on a recruiting upswing until the last few years; its current head count is still higher than in fall 2013, when it enrolled 1,577 students, according to federal data.
Warren Wilson College
Five programs, 14 faculty positions and 12 staff jobs are being cut at Warren Wilson College, which is undergoing an “academic rebalancing,” according to Black Mountain News.
The newspaper reported that enrollment at the small, private liberal arts college in North Carolina has held steady over the years at roughly 800 students. But officials have said that revenue is flattening while operational costs are increasing, prompting administrators to enact cuts.
Chemistry, global studies, history and political science, math, and philosophy majors will be cut.
Fresno Pacific University
Amid budget and enrollment challenges, the small Christian institution will eliminate a total of 16 programs and 23 faculty jobs, The Fresno Bee reported.
While 11 faculty members will lose their jobs in June, another 12 positions will go unfilled, according to the university’s website, which notes an “academic realignment” is needed “to help alleviate a projected deficit” and “to focus on areas of high student interest.” The changes come as Fresno Pacific’s enrollment—currently about 3,000 students—has trended downward in recent years, falling by more than 1,000 since the fall 2020 semester, according to federal data.
University of Massachusetts at Lowell
Facing a $37 million deficit in its budget for fiscal year 2024, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell announced last month that it had laid off 23 employees, according to the local newspaper, The Sun.
“This week, we began difficult conversations with 23 members of the UMass Lowell community, informing them that they will be laid off from their positions,” Chancellor Julie Chen wrote in a letter to the university community. She noted that the loss of federal coronavirus relief funds, wage and benefit increases, and inflation were all contributing factors driving the job cuts.
At least five of the faculty members slated to be cut are tenured, according to the college’s website.
The Post-Dispatch reported that the cuts come as the private Catholic college in Missouri has struggled with a 60 percent loss in enrollment and a decline of more than $14 million in revenue over the last decade. Fontbonne currently enrolls fewer than 1,000 students, according to its website; federal data shows a head count of nearly 2,000 students in fall of 2013.
The cuts are part of a larger effort to fix a $5.2 million budget deficit.
Pressed by financial challenges and shifting its focus from two-year to four-year degrees, Hesston College announced in early December that it is eliminating 13 faculty and staff jobs.
The private Mennonite college in Kansas indicated on its website that the move was necessary “to get back on track financially,” with the cuts expected to save $765,000. Hesston’s Board of Directors had asked college leaders to trim $800,000 from the 2024–25 operating budget. Despite its shifting focus, Hesston will continue to offer some two-year degrees.
State University of New York at Fredonia
The State University of New York at Fredonia will cut 13 degree programs in an effort to address a $10 million structural deficit, President Stephen H. Kolison Jr. told community members earlier this month. While job cuts will accompany programmatic changes, those details remain unclear.
Kolison has indicated it is too soon to tell how many jobs will be affected.
“While our plan will involve the elimination of positions as we align our offerings with enrollment, we are committed to supporting our employees throughout the process. Projecting exact reductions and savings is not yet possible, however, due to uncertainties in retirements and attrition through the next few years. However, Fredonia will carefully follow all contractual and civil service rules as we implement this roadmap,” Kolison said in a letter to the community.
Bethany Lutheran College
Majors to be discontinued at the private, Christian college in Minnesota include American studies, history, social studies and theater. Additionally, two minors will be cut: philosophy and global and cross-cultural studies. The college will also end instruction in Latin and Norwegian language courses due to low enrollment.