Low student enrollment and the lowest incoming student body in a decade at the University of Redlands prompted administrators to cut 34 positions — 16 through layoffs — and reorganize student programs.
Kevin Dyerley, the university’s vice president for finance, and Michelle Rogers, the vice president of administration, informed faculty and staff of the college of the downsizing in a memo Thursday, June 3.
College enrollment has fallen since 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend last year, leading to a $13 million shortfall and prompting the need to downsize and reorganize staff. Enrollment for 2021-22 will be 3,989, down from 4,033 in 2020-2021.
“The financial reality is that the university can only rebound if the size of our institution is adjusted according to our current financial situation,” according to the note.
Eighteen of the 34 jobs that were abolished have already been suspended or vacant. “We are saddened that 16 fellows have been abandoned,” the note read, adding that cuts occurred at nearly all ranks and levels at the university. He also noted that no further “widespread personnel actions” were expected and that a balanced three-year budget had been submitted to the university’s board of trustees.
“We have done our best to respect individuals’ contributions to the work and their history, their privacy, and their needs for a supportive, sympathetic and dignified departure,” the memo reads. “Employees received a generous bonus package based on length of service, extended education benefits for those individuals and family members who were enrolled as students, and were informed that they were eligible for a one-time Employee Emergency Fund grant if they wished to apply.”
In the pre-pandemic period, student enrollment at the private liberal arts college and its seven other campuses grew 7% in the fall of 2019 to 4,931 students—the most since 2016. Tuition-related fees account for 92% of the university’s revenue. However, the pandemic slowed contributions to the university and prompted the cancellation of fundraising, which further affected revenue.
Dyerley told the Redlands Daily Facts last year that the rise in staff-related expenses was outpacing tuition increases, and that two-thirds of university expenses were staff-related.
In addition to the cuts, the university is implementing a three-year program called “Redlands Reimagined” to help stabilize the college’s finances. This includes developing new schools and centers, deploying faculty more efficiently, and increasing classes and hybrid and online programs, spokeswoman Stephanie Johnson said in an email.
Some of these programs have already been offered, including an accelerated business program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree within five years. In addition, Johnson said a variety of new degree programs — including nonprofit management, theological studies and project management — are now on the class schedule.