Queen sacrifice at Calvin College

Calvin College, photo by Michael JThe latest queen sacrifice story comes from Calvin College, which just decided to cut a series of departments and faculty.

According to an official statement, the college is engaging in re-prioritization. This means:

The final recommendations include the elimination of five majors (art history, classical languages, Greek, Latin and theatre) and one minor (architecture).

Calvin will end five faculty positions, and remove a sixth “affiliated faculty position.” That’s six out of 275, according to Wikipedia.

What’s the context for this move?  “[E]nrollment in these programs over the past several years does not appear to be sustainable in an era of historically low tuition increases”.

Moreover, “a significant financial restructuring” is under way.  It’s a “plan to meet the college’s debt obligations and put Calvin’s finances on a sustainable footing.”  According to MLive, “long-term debt grew to $115 million in 2012, a level administrators said was unsustainable.”

One cause of those financial problems is a slight decline in enrollment. “For the 2015-2016 year, there are 3,990 students enrolled; a decrease of 3 students from 2014-15 and down 44 students from 2013-14.”

What can we learn from this?  Once again, a queen sacrifice occurs following financial stresses on a campus, triggered in part by enrollment issues.  As usual, the humanities bear the brunt of cuts, so much so that the official Calvin College FAQ asks “Is Calvin College still committed to the humanities, languages and arts?”

As I’ve said before, both here and in many presentations and consultations, if those stresses persist we should expect to see many more such sacrifices.

(thanks to Ed Vielmetti on Twitter for the link; Michael J for the photo)

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