Higher ed layoffs continue amid struggle for students, funding
- Two public universities in the last week announced significant faculty and staff cuts to help resolve punishing budget deficits, making them the latest institutions to do so.
- The University of Oklahoma reported it was trimming 50 staff positions, mostly at its main campus, to help resolve what President James Gallogly said is a potential $15 million operating loss, The Associated Press reported. In Georgia, Savannah State University, meanwhile, said it will lay off 26 non-tenured faculty members as declining enrollment and reduced state funding strains its budget.
- Upon taking office earlier this year, Gallogly announced cuts to administrative offices and saved $20 million by reducing third-party services and purchasing. Savannah has taken interim measures such as eliminating vacant positions and restricting new hires, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education, though President Cheryl Dozier said those are "not sustainable options given the budgetary circumstances."
Budgetary shortfalls and other financial dilemmas are familiar as public colleges and universities struggle with the twin problems of enrollment challenges and reduced state funds. In response, they are using a variety of methods to fill the gap, including cutting tuition, increasing fundraising and recruiting more intensely and creatively — and more often out-of-state.
Those are dilemmas faced by Western Kentucky University, which in February announced one of the largest layoffs with 140 positions, a college and three regional campuses eliminated to help reduce a worsening $15 million budget deficit. Pension costs were also to blame.
Smaller institutions also are closing, merging or making significant cuts. St. Louis Community College voted late last year to cut as many as 95 positions, and Evergreen State College in Washington and Essex County College in New Jersey each planned to eliminate more than 30 positions. At Evergreen, officials were concerned that enrollment would drop by 20% this academic year.
Private universities aren't immune, either. Northwestern University announced in July that it was cutting 80 administrative positions due to a budget shortfall driven by tuition discounts as well as investment in faculty and research, all aimed at increasing enrollment. It also has spent extensively on new facilities, Crain's Chicago Business reported, which noted that the university "took its eye off mounting expenses."
- The Associated Press University of Oklahoma eliminates 50 positions
- Diverse Issues in Higher Education Savannah State Announces Layoff of 26 Faculty Members due to Declining Enrollment
- Savannah State University Savannah State takes next step to address budget shortfall