Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Chronicle of Higher Education, 2020 Has Been a Hard Year for Higher Ed. Could 2021 Be Worse?:
Colleges are now starting to calculate the full costs of the coronavirus, including the fallout from declining enrollments and rising operating costs.
At places like Ithaca College, the impact of the pandemic is accelerating plans for major cuts in faculty jobs and academic programs. Beginning this spring, the college will begin to cut nearly a quarter of its 547 faculty members, said La Jerne T. Cornish, Ithaca’s provost.
The college’s undergraduate enrollment is 4,785 full-time students, more than 900 students fewer than a year ago, a decline of more than 16 percent, according to the college’s figures. At the same time, the college has a budget shortfall of $8 million because of increased operating costs — an amount that could grow before the end of the academic year, Cornish said.
Barbara K. Mistick, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said that the extra spending required to keep colleges open will lead to more layoffs in the spring if Congress fails to pass another stimulus bill that aids higher education.
Ithaca’s announcement is among the earliest in what is likely to be a cascade of budget cuts for higher education throughout the fall and winter. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that job losses at colleges have already reached historic levels. Nonprofit private and public institutions shed an estimated 337,000 jobs from February to August, according to federal data.