86ºF

Rollins College to layoff staff, eliminate programs due to expected budget decrease

School will begin removing positions, programs

photo

Rollins College announced it will begin laying off some faculty and cutting programs after a budget meeting Tuesday.

“COVID-19 has created massive disruption and challenges for the world, for all institutions of higher education, and for Rollins College,” President Cornwell wrote in a letter to faculty and staff.

In early March, the school projected to balance a budget of approximately $120 million. As COVID-19 forced students to learn from home through virtual courses only the school is expected to see a decrease in funds by $16 million, according to the letter.

“Anticipating lower enrollments of both new and returning students this fall, the budget we presented to the board last week, which they subsequently approved, is a budget of $104 million,” Cornwell said. “The only prudent course of action is to re-engineer Rollins to be smaller than we are now, not just next year, but for the foreseeable future.”

According to a statement from the school, Rollins will eliminate some programs and staff as well as implement salary reductions in nearly every department.

The College issued this statement to News 6:


You can read the entire letter from President Cornwell below.

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you to those who attended Tuesday’s virtual forum where we reviewed the financial risks we are facing at Rollins and our plans to address them. For those unable to attend, I would like to share some of the actions taken by the Board of Trustees at its recent meeting and our path forward as a college.

COVID-19 has created massive disruption and challenges for the world, for all institutions of higher education, and for Rollins College. You have all worked tirelessly since mid-March when we made the decision to send students home, and I hope you share my pride in how we have responded as a college and as a community. The trustees, to a person, expressed their appreciation for your commitment.

As we always do at the May meeting of the board, we presented the College’s budget for the upcoming year for approval. In early March, we projected to balance at approximately $120 million. Anticipating lower enrollments of both new and returning students this fall, the budget we presented to the board last week, which they subsequently approved, is a budget of $104 million.

What does this mean? With lower enrollments, we will have less revenue and fewer students to serve. The only prudent course of action is to re-engineer Rollins to be smaller than we are now, not just next year, but for the foreseeable future. Eliminating $16 million from our budget will be painful, and the pain will be shared and felt throughout every corner of this community we cherish. This is an extremely difficult process that we will undertake with compassion and regret.

In identifying budget reductions, we applied two key priorities: maintaining the academic integrity of our programs and attending to the wellbeing of our Rollins community. To do this, we are taking a number of actions to align our expenses with our anticipated revenue. They include: across-the-board reductions in nearly every departmental operating budget; graduated salary reductions for staff and faculty (except those earning less than $45,000 a year, who will not participate in salary reductions); a temporary suspension of 403(b) match of retirement contributions (the College’s 7 percent contribution will persist); and selective workforce reduction.

Position reductions were identified across both faculty and staff and include a significant number of vacant positions. Staff positions were cut with consideration of how we can continue to fulfill our mission with a leaner workforce. Faculty lines were cut as carefully as possible to assure the integrity of our curriculum and honor the system of tenure.

In considering program reductions, priority was keenly focused on the curriculum, the classroom, and supporting student success. Rollins has a number of wonderful programs that enrich the liberal arts culture of campus and especially the greater community, and it is with regret that we are discontinuing them effective May 31: the Community School of Music, STARS Senior Enrichment Program, Winter Park Institute, and Winter With the Writers. In athletics, lower student participation supported the decision to discontinue the cross-country team. Some auxiliary operations that can be outsourced, such as Print Services, are also being terminated. Most College-sponsored travel will continue to be curtailed for 2020-21 as well as most internal food and entertainment budgets.

The College’s leadership team, guided by the recommendations of the task forces, has spent the past several weeks thoughtfully considering the best decisions for our campus community. We care deeply about the College’s mission and the quality of its delivery, and we are taking both cautious and strategic measures to ensure Rollins’ health in perpetuity.

Currently, we are focused on obtaining the best class possible for 2020-21 and on reinforcing our connection with our returning students. As we work through the summer to prepare for students’ arrival this fall, we will be doing so wholly intent on being a smaller, stronger Rollins. As I have said, I have every confidence that Rollins has the wherewithal, in its resources but mostly in its people—in its students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni—to create a new, bold, and confident trajectory for itself. And that is the work before us.

President Grant Cornwell


About the Author: