As the current academic calendar comes to an end, Goshen College will continue a process of change to prepare for a new school year.
During the week of April 28, the President’s Council will announce to employees the cuts and reductions for administrative staff, which will come into effect for the 2014-15 school year.
Faculty reductions were announced last December; three full-time and three part-time positions were eliminated, and 10 professors’ teaching loads were reduced to 75-percent contracts, or a load of six courses rather than eight. Goshen College will move to a 12:1 student-faculty ratio from the current 10:1 ratio.
The employment restructuring is part of a long-term strategic planning process to address multi-structural problems, including a several million-dollar budget deficit for the 2014-15 school year, according to Jim Histand, vice president of finance. The changes are also in preparation for institutional re-accreditation in March 2015.
Decisions were made with the input of several committees, including the college’s Dean’s Advisory Committee, academic and administrative review teams, which included administration, faculty and staff input, the President’s Council and the
GC Board of Directors.
“Personnel changes will be 40-percent of the total adjustments of the operating budget for next year,” Histand said.
Yet not all professors leaving are doing so because of cuts. There are other usual staffing changes in process, with some faculty moving on to new jobs independent of the changes, according to Scott Barge, director of institutional research, assessment and effectiveness. Though administrators don’t plan to rehire people for the positions that have been cut, they will rehire people to replace those who have elected to move on for
The college is also looking at non-salary areas of the budget to determine where to make changes. The current 2013-14 school year’s revenues are not large enough to cover the $34 million expenses of the average annual budget.
As such, the college has drawn from the institution’s endowment for the second year in a three-year phase approved by the board.
“The college has been significantly challenged on an operational basis,” Histand said. “There is too much capacity on an operational level for the current number of students. This process works to balance the institution’s operations along with the budget.”
Goshen’s endowment is $115 million, a “strong foundation” for a small liberal arts college that “will serve students of the future as well as students of today,” according to Histand. The college’s final budget for the 2014-15 school year will be officially approved by the board in October, as projections are still being made for factors like enrollment and health insurance.
The changes reflect GC’s larger future goals as an institution, including the implementation of academic schools in fall 2015.
These schools, which already exist, combine common majors under a larger roof: Humanities (including arts, music, English and American Sign Language); Society and Religion (including history and social work); Nursing and Science (including psychology); and Professional Studies (including communication, business, education and physical education).
Departments will remain within a larger context, so that students can more easily combine subjects to create new interdisciplinary majors. Barge was one of the coordinators of
“We are driven by interdisciplinary schools and how we’re positioning ourselves for the future,” said Barge. “We are trying to think about how we can reorganize institutionally, and be more efficient and beneficial to students. I think it’s possible to achieve both of those goals.”
An academic council, which has representatives from each “school” and graduate areas of the college, will meet this summer to create formal proposals for the organization of this new model. Incremental changes will be made along the way, such as the new majors in marketing and computer science that were created
While Histand does not expect that restructuring will be a perfect solution, the processes are an “opportunity to look at fresh ways of putting academics and all of its support services together. It’s not just about cutting back, it’s how to rethink what things we need to do for both now and the future,” Histand said.
Even through difficult changes, Histand sees “how much the depth of passion and love of the institution comes through a whole variety of people,” Histand said. “It is a difficult process because you are making changes that some people feel very sad about and impact people’s lives, but there is a refreshment of the renewal of commitment to the institution. People love this place and go a long way to help
it be successful.”