Beloit College grappling with financial issues

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    BDN file photo This photograph shows Beloit College's historic Middle College. On Thursday it was announced that the college will impose layoffs and salary decreases to help combat a financial deficits.

  • Bierman

  • 1

    BDN file photo This photograph shows Beloit College's historic Middle College. On Thursday it was announced that the college will impose layoffs and salary decreases to help combat a financial deficits.

BELOIT - Beloit College will impose layoffs and salary decreases among other plans to combat financial deficits, according to a letter sent to alumni on Thursday.

The letter states the Budget and Planning Committee of Beloit College's Board of Trustees has passed the 2018-19 budget and has endorsed a three-year financial model which will serve as the college's guide for the foreseeable future. The college's conundrum, the letter states, is that the institution should be budgeting for about 1,150 students, yet it's currently structured to support nearly 1,300 students.

President Scott Bierman said in a statement to the Beloit Daily News Thursday the college is moving from a $48 million to $43 million annual budget, which means the following changes will have to occur:

• Though the college doesn't expect any involuntary tenured or tenure-track faculty departures, the total size of the faculty will decrease to match the size of the student population.

• Beginning in fiscal year 2019, salary decreases for staff and faculty will be implemented on a progressive system, and staff earning less than $45,000 will be exempt from any reduction. The college's most senior staff will see reductions in excess of 10 percent.

• Through restructuring key areas of the administration, the college will eliminate at least 30 administrative staff positions. While several eliminations will come through elimination of vacant positions, some staff members will lose their jobs.

Bierman notes the financial model does not include the elimination of any academic programs.

The changes were recommended in a comprehensive report created by a group called Beloit Forward.

Back in May the college developed Beloit Forward - comprised of elected faculty members, college trustees and senior staff - to respond to enrollment and retention declines, address the budget imperatives, tell the college's story and attract the support of alumni and friends of the college.

"The recommendations of the Beloit Forward team reflect difficult choices, but they are made in service of our core aim of ensuring that we're best equipped now, and in the future, to provide an experience that prepares students to embrace complexity and solve difficult challenges," Bierman said. "Though we are rightly focused on the financial foundation of the college, Beloit Forward will also bring renewed energy to other critical conversations on campus that will allow us to build on our liberal arts tradition - from the student experience overall, to new advising models, and intellectual life on campus."

The next step is to shape Beloit Forward 2.0, "a pivot point that takes full advantage of the work of the Beloit Forward teams to date, but aims the college in pointedly focused and productive directions ahead," the letter states.

Officials will be seeking input from the community on the college's next steps.

In May, the Beloit Daily News reported the college was projected to face a $7 million budget deficit for the 2018-2019 school year, with lower enrollment numbers for the incoming freshman classes and estimated lower retention rates for sophomores. In mid-May, 263 incoming freshman had made a deposit for the college.

The college had two of its best enrollment years for the incoming freshman class in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The college had 383 students enroll in 2014-2015 and 360 enroll in 2015-2016. Bierman previously said 360 incoming first-year students was right on target, because it essentially allowed the college to fill every bed on campus.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the college had 323 students enroll in its freshman class.

As for retention, Bierman predicted back in May just shy of 80 percent of freshman students are projected to return to Beloit College for their sophomore year.

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