More campus cuts in March

March 29, 2024

With the spring semester halfway over, many institutions are preparing to make cuts before the next academic year. While multiple colleges and universities announced job cuts in March, others noted the need to tackle budget deficits but did not specify whether layoffs were coming. Some are conducting academic portfolio reviews that will likely result in at least some low enrollment programs being shuttered.

Click here for our recent coverage of other campus cutbacks.

Rockland Community College

A picture of a shattered pedestal under the words Campus Cutbacks

Rockland Community College, part of the State University of New York system, will eliminate 19 positions as it navigates a structural deficit of $3.6 million, the local Journal News reported. Furloughs are also expected while the college seeks to cut $8 million from its budget.

This is the second round of cuts after layoffs and furloughs in December.

The Rockland Community College Faculty Senate responded to the cuts with a no-confidence resolution in President Lester Edgardo Sandres Rápalo and other senior administrators. Other campus constituent groups also signed onto the statement of no confidence in leadership.

Saint Martin’s University

Citing “dire” financial issues, St. Martin’s University in Washington plans to cut an unspecified number of jobs, local NBC affiliate King 5 News reported. Though the university did not identify the number, the network reported that 14 jobs are expected to be lost. Additionally, the university has frozen hiring for 25 vacant positions, according to its website.

Majors and minors in the humanities are also being considered for elimination.

The cuts come amid declining enrollment at St. Martin’s, which federal data shows slipped from about 1,800 a decade ago to 1,357 this spring, according to numbers on the university’s website.

St. Norbert College

Facing a $5 million budget deficit, St. Norbert College in Wisconsin laid off 12 faculty members earlier this month, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported. The move follows 45 layoffs last fall.

The layoffs, which were accompanied by cuts to retiree health benefits, prompted protests from students concerned about transparency in the process.

Officials have defended the cuts as necessary due to declining enrollment. Federal data shows the headcount at the private Catholic college fell from around 2,100 in fall 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, to 1,750, according to the latest figures reported by the newspaper.

Portland State University

Portland State University is eliminating its Intensive English Language Program by July 1, according to an announcement earlier this month by President Ann Cudd. She noted that the university is “rapidly spending down our reserves,” prompting budget cuts ahead. With only 30 students enrolled in the Intensive English Language Program for nonnative English speakers, typically international students, Cudd said it had become unsustainable.

As part of the program elimination, it appears 12 jobs will be cut. Though the announcement references 11 full-time, nontenure track professors in the program, the Portland State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors said in a newsletter that 12 employees will be terminated along with the program. The AAUP chapter also disputed Cudd’s claim that the decision was made in conjunction with faculty.

St. Joseph’s College

The Maine institution has laid off 10 employees as part of a restructuring, the Portland Press Herald reported. All 10 were in administrative positions, according to the newspaper.

Affected departments include information technology, marketing and athletics.

Additional layoffs are not expected, according to St. Joseph’s President Joseph Cassidy, who joined the college in August. He cited cost savings as part of the rationale for the layoff decision.

Drake University

Following a review, Drake University in Iowa is looking to discontinue 13 academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the private institution announced earlier this month.

Targeted undergraduate majors include anthropology and sociology, astronomy, physics, religion, rhetoric and health care administration. At the graduate level, masters programs in accounting and public administration, and an evidence-based health care certificate, will be cut.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported nine faculty members will lose their jobs due to the cuts, which won’t be finalized until late April when the Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the plan.

State University of New York at Fredonia

Due to budget issues, SUNY Fredonia is moving forward with a plan to cut 13 majors, including various language and fine arts programs, according to the local Democrat & Chronicle. Beginning in June, students will no longer be admitted into those 13 majors as the programs begin to wind down.

University officials told the newspaper the number of teaching positions affected is unclear.

University of Houston-Victoria

The University of Houston-Victoria is looking to cut $3.7 million by August 31, the Victoria Advocate reported. The university has already enacted a hiring freeze and is now cutting jobs.

Just how many jobs will be affected remains unknown to the public. “We are not currently prepared to share the number of individuals or specific departments affected out of respect for the employees who are impacted by this decision,” President Bob Glenn told the newspaper, adding that the layoffs are the university’s “only anticipated reduction at this time.” Glenn is reportedly taking a 10 percent salary cut as part of the belt-tightening plan.

Officials cited declining enrollment and retention as the reasons for the layoffs.

University of Montana

Big changes may be coming to the University of Montana, where 67 programs are under evaluation as part of an academic portfolio review, NBC Montana reported. Reviewers are looking at enrollment and degree completion in those programs over the last seven years.

The review is expected to be completed by fall, with potential changes coming in the 2025–26 academic year, NBC Montana reported, adding that such program reviews are expected to become annual.

Valparaiso University

Cuts could also be on the horizon for Valparaiso University.

Currently, 28 academic programs are under review, the Chicago Tribune reported. Decisions on programmatic cuts are not expected to be made until August, when the fall semester begins. Any programs that end up on the chopping block will likely be phased out in the 2026–27 academic year to allow current students to complete their majors, the newspaper reported.

Marquette University

Marquette University plans to cut $31 million from its budget over seven years, including $11 million for the 2025–26 academic year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Currently the university is facing a $9.5 million budget shortfall, which has caused it to tap contingency funds.

“Although we are in a strong financial position, Marquette—like other universities—is facing increasing economic and demographic pressures. Fewer traditional students are attending college, and those who do attend often need more financial and other support,” university officials said in a March 18 statement outlining the financial challenges and budget reductions.

While they did not reference possible layoffs, Marquette has made deep job cuts in recent years.


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