As a measure to resolve Bethel’s projected $6 million budget shortfall, the university cuts several staff positions.
By Alayna Hoy
On May 1 an announcement was made that the Bethel community has awaited since the beginning of the semester. Almost 10 Bethel staff positions were eliminated, with more likely to be cut this fall.
The cuts are part of Bethel’s plan to reduce a projected budget deficit for the 2019 fiscal year that totaled around $6 million, based on calculations made at the start of the year. In addition to leaving several current vacant positions empty and introducing a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, these staff reductions are expected to net around $1.3 million in savings toward reducing the deficit.
Staff members who received the notice that their position would be cut will officially leave the Bethel community on May 15. Until that time they are permitted to complete their final two weeks as they see fit, working as much as they would like to or not at all if they prefer.
Severance packages for these employees include continued compensation and benefits based on the duration of their employment with Bethel. Tuition benefits for spouses, dependents or staff themselves will extend until the enrolled student completes their Bethel degree. Finally, outplacement services are in place to help affected staff find new employment.
Staff eliminations took place in several departments including Information Technology Services, Bethel Seminary, admissions for adult programs and university advancement.
After the announcement was made, the impacted departments were asked to meet and strategize how to move forward and restructure.
A working group was formed to discuss this decision in March, after the projected budget deficit for the 2019 fiscal year was announced. The president’s Cabinet met with members of an Executive Leadership Team of vice presidents across campus to propose, assess and determine the viability of these staff changes. Cabinet members made the final decision.
Moving forward, Bethel continues to host working groups of staff, faculty and administration who are working together to make Bethel more financially sustainable as an institution.
It is likely that additional staff and administrative cuts will be made this fall. A working group will meet over the summer to determine where and how those cuts will take place. The same severance packages and process will be administered at that time. Staff and administration reductions for the fall will be announced by October 15.
“We are paying careful attention to students to ensure that any changes would have minimal or positive effects to their Bethel experience,” said Chief Human Resources Officer, Cara Wald. “All recommended changes must prioritize providing an outstanding student experience.”