Keene State College will offer buyouts to faculty and staff as part of ongoing efforts to cut costs. The college may also look at layoffs in early 2018, said Interim President Melinda Treadwell.
Enrollment declines have fueled Keene State's recent financial struggles. The college relies heavily on tuition income for its operating budget.
After running deficits for three consecutive years, Keene State is looking to balance its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018. To do so, Treadwell said the school will need to find $5.5 million in cost savings. That accounts for what is expected to be a smaller incoming class than that graduating this spring, resulting in less tuition income next fall. Plus, the college is budgeting for raises for faculty and staff.
In a campus-wide meeting Tuesday, Treadwell announced an academic restructuring plan to reduce administrative costs, as well as the voluntary buyouts for faculty and staff. Fulltime, benefited staff and long-serving faculty will be eligible.
Enrollment challenges are not unique to Keene State. Changing demographics across the northeast have translated to significant declines in the number of students graduating from high schools across the region. That's forced colleges to be more aggressive in their recruitment strategies.
Keene State's specific enrollment declines, though, have outpaced demographic trends, Treadwell said. She's hoping to implement new targeted financial aid strategies and improve the college's messaging to prospective students. She's optimistic the college will emerge well positioned for the future. "We are not an institution in peril. We're just an institution that needs to rethink its model," she said. "I am awake at night over this, but I'm not worried about it."