Concordia University Chicago became the latest university to cut back its academic offerings, when earlier this week, it confirmed it would close 15 academic programs due to the budgetary impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the program cuts, the University is planning to reduce its workforce by 51 faculty and staff members, according to reporting by the Chicago Tribune.
Impact of pandemic on employees of uneversity
While current students in the affected programs will be allowed to complete their degrees at Concordia, new enrollments in the targeted programs will not be allowed.
The programs to be closed include:
- Graphic arts
- Women’s and gender studies
- Business communication
The personnel reductions impact of pandemic on employees will affect about 7% of total personnel at the university, which is one of eight campuses in the Concordia University System, associated with The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Collectively, the System enrolls about 35,000 students. At Concordia University Chicago, which is located in River Forest, Illinois, enrollment is about 6,500 students, and the University recently touted that figure as a record high.
Does the impact of pandemic on employees officially recorded?
The University will apparently offer severance packages to departing faculty and staff, but the terms of those packages have not been made public. In fact, the names of the staff who will be let go have also not been made official.
Concordia-Chicago President Russell Dawn said the decisions were approved by the Board of Regents on Dec. 11, and that they involved a two-year “prioritization” process during which academic programs and resource allocation were evaluated.
It was a long and challenging process.It involved people from a variety of areas across the institution. It involved a great deal of data. We actually had consultants come in and help us put together the data we would need in order to do a really thorough job of it; So the impact of pandemic on employees really matters.
The impact of pandemic on employees vs Students
Both students and faculty were expressing dissatisfaction with the process and the outcomes of the university’s actions. The faculty senate raised three objections to the prioritization process, in a letter to university leadership that was obtained by the Tribune.
They expressed concerns about “the suspension of the institution’s responsibility to uphold tenure, the termination of faculty during the height of a global pandemic, and the intermixing of finances with religious-based decisions of who to let go.”
The situation in Chicago is not the first major setback for the Concordia University System this year. In February, it announced that its campus in Portland would be closed due to a combination of rising debt and plunging enrollment.
December has proven to be a particularly bad month for several universities that have been forced to announce large-scale cuts to academic programs, substantial reductions in workforce, or both. The University of Vermont, Marquette University, the University of Evansville and College of St. Rose in New York have all revealed plans for drastic cuts. In each case, students, faculty and alumni have decried the decisions, but how effective those objections will ultimately be in salvaging the programs and individuals slated for termination is very doubtful.