For a number of institutions, the year began with bad news: announcements of program and job cuts, the result of ongoing financial pressures and enrollment challenges. It is a common refrain among institutions of higher education; you can read our previous coverage of campus cutbacks here, here and here.
The latest crop includes large public universities and one of the wealthiest, most selective institutions in the country.
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire plans to make deep cuts—up to 75 employees—as part of a larger plan to reduce expenses by $14 million, The New Hampshire Union Leader reported.
“Like many universities, UNH is challenged by intense competition for enrollment, as well as increased costs,” Tania deLuzuriaga, UNH’s executive director of public relations, told the Union Leader in an email. “Last fall, we announced plans to reduce expenses by approximately $14 million, and personnel cuts are unfortunately necessary to help us achieve these savings.”
Job cuts announced so far are in information technology, the campus art museum, and the health and wellness clinic, among others.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro identified 19 programs for elimination after conducting an academic portfolio review in recent months, NC Newsline reported. University officials have said low enrollment necessitated cuts to both graduate and undergraduate programs.
So far the university has not specified the number of job cuts that will accompany program reductions.
Faculty members have pushed back on certain details of the program review—such as enrollment numbers, which they say are erroneous and undercount students in certain majors targeted for elimination, including religious studies and Russian and Chinese languages. In some cases, the numbers presented by officials are off by dozens of students, faculty say.
UNC Greensboro officials plan to make a final determination on cuts on Feb. 1.
Eastern Gateway Community College
Embattled Eastern Gateway Community College will cut 28 jobs—10 hourly employees and 18 staff members—in an effort to save $1.3 million, according to The Vindicator.
Eastern Gateway has dealt with a litany of issues in recent years related to a free college program for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union members and their families, which increased enrollment from around 20,000 to more than 40,000 students in 2020. But the program also attracted scrutiny, including from EGCC’s accrediting body and the U.S. Department of Education, which took the college to court over financial aid irregularities in 2022. State lawmakers also expressed concern about free college for out-of-state students.
The college announced in August that it would end the free college program.
Earlier this year, Ohio’s state auditor began investigating “financial irregularities” at EGCC.
Queens College, part of the City of University of New York system, laid off 26 full-time faculty members earlier this month, Queens Ledger reported.
College officials noted in a memo that the move is in response to a mandate by CUNY administrators calling for a number of institutions to release “enhanced deficit reduction plans” after New York City mayor Eric Adams slashed $23 million from the system’s budget in the fall.
Faculty members have criticized the abrupt nature of the cuts, coming just before the start of the spring semester.
Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University intends to cut five programs due to low enrollment, eliminating 13 faculty positions as part of the plan, Ideastream Public Media reported.
The five programs—art education, geography, music composition, jazz studies and public and professional writing—reportedly enrolled only 175 students and produced 23 graduates in the last academic year, according to a presentation a university official made to YSU’s Academic Senate.
Students and faculty members have protested the cuts in recent weeks.
The college is ending low-residency programs on campus that allow students to study mostly online while also spending short stints on the college’s grounds. Officials say enrollment issues, student modality preferences and rising costs are driving the move, which will also see Goddard College lay off a dozen staff members amid the shift.
Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
Anticipating a deficit of $140 million in the next fiscal year, the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system is offering buyouts to encourage retirements, The Connecticut Mirror reported.
Around 550 employees are reportedly eligible for the retirement incentive. If all eligible employees take the buyout, initial savings are projected to be $91.8 million. If half of those employees accept buyouts, savings of an estimated $45.9 million are projected.
The Connecticut State chapter of the American Association of University Professors has raised concerns about the plan, particularly regarding whether needed jobs will be replenished once vacated. The University Senate at Eastern Connecticut State University has introduced a no-confidence vote in CSCU chancellor Terrence Cheng related to the buyout plan and other system issues.
A vote on the no-confidence resolution is scheduled for Jan. 30.
University of Chicago
Debt of $5.8 billion and rising interest payments are also reportedly a cause for concern.
In a presentation last month, administrators told faculty members that the university is looking to reduce the budget deficit partly through targeted cuts, but they did not offer specifics on potential layoffs. The university has also introduced a voluntary retirement incentive initiative. Details on possible cuts are likely to emerge this spring when UChicago releases deficit-reduction plans.
Pennsylvania State University
While it has not announced any job cuts, Penn State plans to cut an estimated $94 million from the 2023–26 budget, according to the NPR affiliate WESA.
While such sweeping cuts will likely lead to some layoffs, those details remain unclear.
“At Penn State we are facing a budget deficit we must overcome,” PSU president Neeli Bendapudi said in a video. “These are not one-time challenges or situations that are going to go away. These complexities require a new way of thinking and working to maintain our long-standing commitment to greatness at scale.”
She cited challenges promoted by flat state funding for higher education and declining enrollment, noting that Penn State has 18 months to make the budget cuts.