Morning Edition

Higher-ed institutions find themselves in a financial pinch

A general view
The University of St. Thomas is laying off 26 staff members.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Northland College announced earlier this month that it was short on funds.

This week, the board of trustees is expected to announce its plans for the liberal arts school in northwest Wisconsin. A shutdown is not out of the question after fundraising efforts fell short of their goal. 

Meanwhile, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul told its employees that it will lay off 26 staff members and leave 30 open positions unfilled. Minnesota’s largest private university is contending with a $10.5 million budget gap. Higher-ed is struggling.  

“There’s actually a litany of woes that higher-ed and particularly small liberal arts are facing,” said Eric Boynton, president of Beloit College in Beloit, Wis. 

“It really has to deal with an image problem that’s exacerbated, recently, by certain colleges that seem to be out of touch with what’s going on in the world that fuels a growing and continuing skepticism about the value of college. There are some who even wonder whether college is needed to find one’s distinctive future [and] economic security.”

Boynton said concerns around affordability, debt and student loans have put pressure on college costs, and Beloit College was no exception. But the school has overcome its financial setbacks with messaging about the value of a college education for students.  

That message: “We’ll have a transformative, joyful, rigorous and challenging four years, but it’s like a loaded spring that launches them into their future careers, professions and outcomes,” he said. 

“What the world needs are students who are educated in small diverse environments — people who understand how to solve problems creatively. They are effective communicators, productive collaborators; they become intellectually and professionally agile.”

Volume Button
Now Listening To Livestream
MPR News logo
On Air
MPR News