Fort Lewis College will cut almost $4.16 million from its 2018-19 academic year after enduring an 11 percent decline in enrollment over the past nine years. The cuts include laying off 11 staff members, including three lecturers.
In her letter announcing acceptance of cuts proposed by the Budget Committee, President Dene Thomas said, “I know this has been a long process for our community, but the plan needed to be put together thoughtfully and carefully. Our goals were to protect the educational experience of our students as much as possible and minimize the impacts on the over 600 people employed at Fort Lewis College.”
The Budget Committee considered the situation for two fiscal years, 2018-19 and 2019-20.
“The assumption is that the adopted reductions based upon the current model will be sufficient through the end of FY2019-20,” according to the Budget Reduction Plan released Tuesday.
Layoffs did not affect tenured or tenure-track professors.
“When it came to our employees,” Thomas said in her letter, “we tried to find alternatives to layoffs wherever possible whether that be the voluntary separation incentive, eliminating vacant positions, restructuring of a job or finding a new position for people. Unfortunately, 11 of our colleagues have been notified that they are losing their jobs this summer. As is mentioned in the budget information, there are no ‘good’ cuts and every person is of value to the institution.”
Thomas said by announcing cuts now, the 11 separated employees would gain a few months of employment as a cushion before their job loss.
Before the budget cuts were made, the school offered voluntary separation incentive plans for faculty and staff members in April 2017 and January 2018.
However, the incentive plans did not attract enough interest to avoid layoffs.
A total of 33 full-time equivalent positions were impacted in some way by the budget plan. Between full- and part-time positions within those 33 FTEs, about 40 individual positions were impacted, said Mitch Davis, spokesman for FLC. Davis said “impacted” could mean eliminated, reduced or restructured.
Employees who lost their jobs were notified by their supervisors before release of the plan.
Also, FLC’s Human Resources Office will work with laid off employees who are paid hourly to explain the state rules about their separation and its implications for each employee. The office will also assist employees on salary to find other employment.
At a Budget Committee meeting Thursday, Thomas said she had received only one email regarding the cuts. “It was a positive email, and conveyed that the whole budget-reduction process was done well, and handled in a transparent process.”
David Blake, co-chairman and associate professor of biology, and Michael Valdez, associate professor of management and the faculty representative on the Board of Trustees, both declined to offer their personal assessment of the budget-reduction process – saying they had both signed nondisclosure agreements to participate in budget-cutting talks.
However, Valdez said the general impression among faculty was that “efforts were made to make it transparent.” Blake added, “I don’t want to go through this again.”
The budget plan emphasizes that the school cannot cut its way to success, and investments to attract more students to reverse the enrollment decline are underway.
Necessary investments include additional funding for enrollment management and for admissions to expand outreach to prospective students. Crucially, the budget plan states outreach will be “aimed at high school sophomores and juniors.”
The report noted: “In the past, much of enrollment management’s focus was on high school seniors. The issue is that many seniors already have a good idea where they want to go to school by the time they hear about Fort Lewis College.”
The college will make a greater commitment to admissions by adding resources for enrollment management. New resources will be used to follow up with interested students and to help them in the admission process. FLC will target students in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California.
The budget plan also says the college is re-examining its campus visit programs “to better show off campus once students and their families visit.”
Beyond loss of jobs, examples of operational cuts include reducing operating funds in multiple budgets, reductions in general scholarships and athletic scholarships, reducing support to the Community Concert Hall, reducing travel budgets, reducing funds for alumni relations, reducing tutoring budgets, and centralizing budgets.
FLC’s general fund is divided into six different functional areas.
The cuts are:
Advancement, $212,327 out of a total budget of $2,495,437.Academic affairs, $2,233,371 out of a total budget of $25,483,477.Finance and administration, $675,238 out of a total budget of $7,982,929.Institutional items, $471,646 out of a total budget of $10,580,826.President’s area, $410,191 out of a total budget of $6,065,006.Student affairs, $154,873 out of a total budget of $1,411,firstname.lastname@example.org