Keene State College has eliminated six administrative positions as part of the school’s multiyear effort to balance its budget and enhance its focus on student services, President Melinda Treadwell said Wednesday.
Treadwell announced the moves in a campus town hall meeting Friday, two weeks after she informed the Keene State community that the college will cut 15 faculty positions and add seven new ones over the coming year. The college expects additional staff changes, which could include some job cuts and some new hires between now and January, Treadwell said Wednesday, though she declined to say how many positions could be eliminated or added.
Cumulatively, these changes will save the college about $5.3 million, which will close Keene State’s $3 million budget gap, Treadwell said.
“We’ll have our staff realignment completed by midyear, and then we will complete our faculty realignment by the end of the year,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday. “And that is all part of that three-year plan of getting to an operational balance point. And we’re on path.
“... But more importantly, we have places where we are not creating a coherent student experience right now just because of our structure,” Treadwell continued.
In addition to five job cuts, Keene State also has combined two administrative positions — vice president for student affairs and chief enrollment officer — into one new role: vice president for enrollment and student engagement. This change led the current vice president for student affairs, Kemal Atkins, to resign, while the current chief enrollment officer, MB Lufkin, will fill the new vice president position on an interim basis while the college searches for a permanent administrator for the role.
Keene State will now have four vice presidents and an associate vice president. Over the next several months, these administrators will analyze their staffs to determine how they can provide student services more efficiently, and where positions may need to be cut, Treadwell said.
“And so the goal is that by the middle of this year, we have a much leaner administrative leadership team,” she said. “... We’re too big at the administrative end of our operation. We need to reduce some administrative costs so that we have less resources flowing into leadership and more into student support and student engagement. And that’s the work we’re doing this year.”
The financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could change Keene State’s budget outlook, but Treadwell said Wednesday “it’s too soon to tell on that.”
The college is expecting an enrollment of around 3,200 this year, compared to just under 3,350 last year. In fall 2013, the college had nearly 5,000 students. Treadwell took over the job three years ago at a time when Keene State faced a multimillion-dollar budget deficit and made about $7.5 million in cuts heading into fall 2017. At the same time, the college began planning for how to make the institution financially viable in the long term, which included a previous round of faculty and staff buyouts.
The cuts announced last week include two positions in marketing and communications, a program support assistant in the office of campus events and conferencing and Keene State’s director of government relations. These jobs were eliminated in large part because they “aren’t at the core of student engagement service,” Treadwell said. Keene State is also eliminating a senior administrative assistant office of the vice president for finance and administration, who is retiring and will not be replaced.
“And so we’re making hard decisions about things that are very important but cannot be part of our portfolio right now while we really try to focus on the student experience,” she said.
The administrators whose positions were eliminated were already on furlough due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Treadwell said. They were informed that their jobs would be cut and offered a voluntary retirement or a severance package, she added.