“I am deeply saddened that we must let go of several people as we restructure our operations,” said Mills in a statement issued to the press. “These are good individuals who have done excellent work for Paul Smith’s, and this is a very difficult step to take. But we must, in order to strengthen the college for the future; I’m confident that these changes will position us to weather a very difficult time in higher education.” Mills said smaller-than-expected enrollment will impact the college.
In all, 23 full- and part-time jobs are expected to be lost at Paul Smith’s, including faculty, staff and administrators. Eleven will come from layoffs, and 12 will come from open positions and people who have left the college voluntarily. The cuts affect 12 percent of Paul Smith’s 190-person workforce.
“Our intent in this restructuring is to ensure that the academic experience at Paul Smith’s remains as strong as ever,” said Mills. “Every year, 90 percent of our graduates find work or pursue further education within six months of graduating. In a difficult job market, Paul Smith’s students are positioned better than most to find work once they leave here.”
According to the press announcement, the college’s Board of Trustees has approved initiatives designed to bolster diversity among the college’s student body and to strengthen marketing efforts, with the intent of attracting a wider pool of students to Paul Smith’s. A previously announced new bachelor’s degree program in baking will begin this fall, addressing demand from students seeking to continue past their associate degree.
“Unfortunately, we are not alone in facing these troubles,” Mills said. “This is a very difficult environment for small, private colleges. Many families are unable to stretch their budgets to pay for college, or shoulder additional debt. Additionally, there are simply fewer students graduating from high school in the Northeast, the geographic area from which we have traditionally drawn the most students.”
As many as 100 fewer students are expected to enroll in this fall’s incoming class as projected. “We rely heavily on tuition revenue, and just cannot come closer to balancing our budget without cutting jobs,” Mills said.
The smaller enrollment has led to budget deficits. In making the moves, the board declared a state of financial exigency, giving it the flexibility to renegotiate and cancel some contracts. Besides the job cuts, college officials are instituting several measures to address the gap, their press announcement said, noting that top administrators are taking pay cuts and the institution is halting contributions to retirement accounts for the upcoming fiscal year. Further changes, such as consolidating administrative departments and the elimination or consolidation of a small number of academic programs, are still being explored.
College trustees approved the plan last weekend. Employees who are laid off are expected to receive severance pay.