This week Bemidji State University in northwest Minnesota announced it will lay off 23 employees after this semester.
The decision was made to address a $9 million loss in revenue which also created a $9 million deficit for the university. BSU attributes this to an almost 20 percent decrease in enrollment in the dawn of COVID-19.
“We've made some operational cuts and offered some early retirement incentives that have helped us,” BSU President John Hoffman said, “but in order to bridge the gap and be good stewards of the dollars that come to us from students and taxpayers and donors, we do need to enact some layoffs, to better align our workforce with our current and projected student enrollment.”
The layoffs are scheduled for May 23.
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Hoffman said the university is not taking an “across-the-board approach” when deciding cuts while strategically planning for the future.
“We are investing in areas including recruitment and marketing and some of our strongest programs that fit with our regionally comprehensive identity,” Hoffman said. “We're also making some cuts in some places where there are some efficiencies that we believe that we can achieve where we can continue to provide high-quality educational experience to our students but with fewer individuals.”
Hoffman identified some of the workers affected by the layoffs as custodial maintenance staff, administrative support, professionals who work outside the classroom with students and four pre-tenure members of the faculty.
While there will be no layoffs at its partner school Northwest Technical College, Hoffman said the layoffs at BSU will affect some individuals who provide shared services or do some work with NTC students. Also, no academic or co-curricular programs will be cut.
Hoffman said going forward, BSU is focusing on growth through recruitment and admissions, adding that right now in northern Minnesota, demand for workers with a post-secondary degree far exceeds the supply.
“We need to tell that story so that folks have a better understanding of that value proposition of higher education, of how attending and earning that degree really is transformational for one’s career and life,” Hoffman said. “And that’s our future.”
Correction (March 20, 2023): A previous version of this story incorrectly named the partner school. This has been fixed.