Elmhurst College makes a queen sacrifice

Elmhurst College logoElmhurst College is the latest member of higher education to make a queen sacrifice. The Chicago-area private liberal arts institution faces financial pressures and has launched a plan involving staff and faculty cuts.

Financial pressure seems to come from growing expenses, rather than declining tuition. According to the student newspaper, Elmhurst’s president reports having to draw more heavily on their endowment than anticipated – not for extraordinary costs, but “to pay for operating expenses.”

The managing director of public affairs went further according to a local news site: “Although revenue from student tuition has remained stable at the college, operational costs, salaries and inflation have grown.”

Cuts include closing a day care center and ending mid-year commencement.  Plus cutting faculty and staff:

Of the 41 college employees leaving, 17 are faculty members – six of these professors were laid off, six accepted voluntary retirement packages, and five resigned after [Interim President Larry] Braskamp’s Dec. 5 announcement.

Additionally, three professors accepted phased retirement offers, meaning they will leave EC within five years.

I can’t determine which programs have been hit, but the campus leadership seems to be making a classic queen sacrifice calculation:

“We were looking for [layoffs] where fewer students would be affected or smaller programs would not be affected,” [Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Alzada] Tipton said. “Our primary consideration was to do as little damage as possible to students and their ability to study what they want to study and graduate in a timely manner.

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Elmhurst’s leadership offers a detailed, sober, and seemingly transparent view of what will come next:

Tipton believes departments will have to make up for losses by relying more on adjunct faculty and their current full-time professors.

“The most obvious solution for [making up the lost faculty] is to hire more adjunct faculty to replace their courses,” she said. “I think some of the full-time faculty work beyond just teaching will have to be shouldered by other full-time faculty in the departments.

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Furthermore, the loss of so many staff and faculty members will force the college to redefine the roles and responsibilities of employees in departments and offices on-campus, Braskamp said at a Feb. 13 faculty meeting.

I’m impressed Elmhurst keeps up the number of students (and hence tuition), given its location in a declining youth population area (the Midwest).

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To sum up: yet another American campus cuts faculty and staff, negatively impacting the school’s academic mission.

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 The queen sacrifice seems to be spreading across the country, despite the national economy being in some form of recovery.

(via Recession Realities)

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3 Responses to Elmhurst College makes a queen sacrifice

  1. longpd says:

    Small liberal arts colleges will be among the first to go in the on-going shakeout as the higher ed financial squeeze ratchets tighter. What’s interesting here is the institution’s service orientation does not seem to have carried through to a service-learning curriculum delivery style (like Northeastern’s, for example). Hence, they haven’t been able to leverage the cost-savings that go with not having to maintain such a large number of students in a place-based living and learning environment.
    — pdl–

  2. Pingback: You sure you want to blow off what Clayton Christensen has been saying?

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