Manchester University, attempting to balance the budget for a more prosperous future, have determined it necessary to reduce staff and faculty positions, eliminate an athletic program, and phase out multiple academic majors.
These changes are recommended by a task force, part of the Institutional Vitality and Sustainability Initiative, that examined academic and administrative spending over a two-year period, among other factors. The task force consisted of elected faculty responsible for advising the University on the best plan of action moving forward.
“The goal of the Vitality Initiative is to be sustainable and vital,” said Dave McFadden, university president. “Sustainable being that the University needs to work with balanced budgets. The vital aspect is about attracting, retaining, and graduating students.”
“I want to be clear that we are doing this from a position of strength,” McFadden continued.
Although discontinued programs and layoffs do not normally enhance the perception of strength, McFadden argues the timing of these announcements allows Manchester to tackle inevitable budgetary issues before the University is further restricted in the future.
“We are trying to avoid a financial crisis with this Initiative and trying to avoid problems that other schools have faced,” McFadden said. “Thankfully, we have little debt compared to other universities around us.”
Manchester is not the only university who has had to adjust to remain financially secure.
“One similar school to us had to cut 100 jobs due to financial issues,” McFadden continued. “Saint Joseph’s College even went out of business in 2017.” Manchester University then invited all displaced St. Joseph students to apply to the North Manchester campus.
President McFadden and the task force ultimately decided to decrease the number of all Manchester employees by six percent over the next couple years. 11 individuals will be let go, while 12 job titles will be removed permanently through attrition. This means that not all employees who leave Manchester naturally, through factors such as retirement, resignation, or leaving for a different job, will automatically be replaced.
“There will be separation packages for those losing their jobs,” McFadden said.
Some students will be affected by the recent changes. Manchester University is suspending the men’s golf program for the foreseeable future, due to the costly nature of the sport on a per-student basis.
The French and Physical Education majors are being phased out in the following two years, since current and future student interest is too low to justify their existence.
“I want to be clear that students will be able to finish their majors, and no student should feel like they won’t be able to complete their studies,” McFadden said. “Staff responsible for teaching these programs will continue until the programs are finished.”
Despite the removal of these academic programs, Manchesterwill continue to offer French language courses, while students looking to gain experience in teaching physical education will be able to complete an exercise and fitness major in combination with education courses.
Still, McFadden believes there will be, “little direct impact on students here under these changes.”
The task force identified other ways to for the University to balance the budget through their 20-month investigation. Over the last year, all printers on both campuses were consolidated to save money, and software duplications were eliminated.
“One thing we are also doing is encouraging staff to work across departments,” McFadden said. “This new vision for student success brings together previously separate offices and entities including studentservices, student engagement, athletics, and the One Stop office.”
“There will also be mileage reimbursements for staff who work far from campus and must commute,” he continued.
Along with these changes, Manchester plans on reducing their contribution to employee retirement accounts.
These decisions should allow Manchester to keep college affordable for its students while improving the strong quality of its programs so graduates can obtain quality jobs after college. Tuition, however, will not remain stagnant.
“We try our best to keep tuition price jumps manageable for students,” McFadden explained. “However, a one percent increase in tuition has been in-line with previous years and that is set to continue.”
Balancing the budget should allow the University to thrive as it launches a nursing program, starts a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree for students in the accounting program, and develops the pharmacy and health communication programs located at the Fort Wayne campus.
“That’s one of the benefits of this Initiative,” McFadden said. “It’s not all about balancing the budget. We want to balance the budget to create new opportunities for the University.”
“We understand that students choose Manchester because they want to make an investment in quality education,” he elaborated. “They want the best value for investment. As a university we must adjust, adapt, and anticipate so students can find success at Manchester.”