MADISON, Wis. - Edgewood College is planning to lay off faculty to achieve a 13-to-1 student/faculty ratio by fall 2020.
"We hope within a year or two to be 15-to-1, but if we could get to a 13-to-1 now, that would allow us to have income and expenses pretty well aligned," said Interim President Mary Ellen Gevelinger.
This work has been happening for two years, but low enrollment has accelerated the need to make changes.
Gevelinger told faculty and staff about the changes last Monday. Although she said many of them knew about the college's financial troubles, the fact that the deficit doubled over the summer was a surprise.
"It’s their job. It’s their livelihood. It’s their family’s health insurance. It’s their mortgage payment. It’s their kid’s tuition at another college. Yes, of course, people are worried. We’re just trying to support each other through a really hard time," said Gevelinger.
She said she isn't sure yet how many people will lose their jobs, but a plan will be ready to present to the board of trustees on Nov. 15. Once it is approved, faculty who are being let go will be notified.
There are currently just under 450 faculty and staff members and about 1,700 students enrolled.
The @EdgewoodCollege freshman class enrollment numbers were lower than expected, doubling the school’s deficit. This is speeding up the process to lay off faculty & remove some of the less popular majors. #news3now pic.twitter.com/hPrYn3ixt4— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) September 16, 2019
Gevelinger said that over the last five years student enrollment has gone down about 30%.
"When you don’t decrease the faculty and staff to match that, that’s when you get into trouble," she said.
Most of Edgewood College's costs are people related, so Gevelinger said the only option is to cut staff and remove some of the less popular majors.
Some of the arts and sciences degrees that don't attract many students will either be blended with majors in other departments or eliminated.
"We will continue to teach those things but maybe not have as many professors as we’ve had in the past," she said.
Students who are currently pursuing those majors will get to finish their degrees.
Gevelinger said another factor that is speeding up this process is the search for a permanent president.
"No president wants to come into a school with a big deficit," she said. "We probably can’t get out of this hole in one year. It might be two."
Gevelinger started her one-year interim term on Sept. 1.
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