Last edited 2:15 p.m., June 3, 2020
Southwest Baptist University yesterday outlined a cost-cutting plan that includes staff reductions in response to "historic budgetary issues" and the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative, scheduled to be conducted over the next two academic years, calls for $3.2 million in cuts. That represents about 5% of the Bolivar-based university's overall budget, according to a news release.
“Through this plan, we are addressing historic budgetary issues and we are responding to the enrollment concerns caused by COVID-19," SBU President Eric Turner said in the release. "There is an enrollment decline in high school seniors coming in 2026 and beyond, and we need to be positioned to navigate the challenges it presents."
The plan includes the elimination of 24 positions, with 14 to be removed through attrition and 10 through a workforce reduction. An incentive retirement program is being enacted for eligible employees.
SBU reported 512 local employees in Springfield Business Journal's list this year of the area's largest higher learning institutions.
Employees staying on board at SBU will see "no salary reductions, no freezes in retirement contributions and no changes to health insurance," Turner said in the release.
"There are, however, many difficult changes, and it will take time for all of us to fully adjust," he said. "I am confident these changes are positive steps toward solving our budgetary challenges and positioning us to fund our strategic plan in a compelling, mission-centric way.”
The university is adjusting workforce benefits, such as employee-sponsored life insurance benefits.
SBU also plans to consolidate its six colleges and 26 academic departments into three colleges and 12 divisions. Faculty load temporarily will be adjusted to 30 credit hours over the course of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years from 24 currently, according to the release.
"This approach reduces the number of positions to be eliminated and collectively shares the burden," the release reads.
SBU previously announced it would open all of its campuses for the fall 2020 semester.
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