An ongoing reorganization of Keene State College’s employee structure should be largely finalized by January, President Melinda Treadwell said Friday, positioning the college to begin focusing on the future.
But first, Keene State will eliminate at least five more positions as part of previously announced cuts, through early retirements, transfers or layoffs.
Keene State announced in August that it would eliminate a total of 15 faculty positions this year and add seven new ones as part of a multi-year process to balance its budget and adjust to a smaller student body. The reorganization also targeted Keene State’s administrative structure, with six administrative positions eliminated that month. One of those positions was eliminated by combining two administrative positions — vice president for student affairs and chief enrollment officer — into one role.
Treadwell announced to faculty and staff Friday that the college will soon launch searches for three vice presidents in its restructured administrative cabinet: provost and vice president for academic engagement, vice president for enrollment and student engagement, and vice president of finance and administration.
A total of 14 administrative positions have been affected in the restructuring, Treadwell said, either through being eliminated or reclassified, or through staff promotions. The college is still in the process of evaluating the finance and administration division’s leadership structure.
“We’ve really tried to change the senior leadership model to make us a smaller campus environment with more collaborative connections across units,” Treadwell said.
The reorganization process began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and follows several years of declining enrollment and financial challenges. As of mid-October, 3,213 students were enrolled at Keene State for the fall semester, according to the University System of New Hampshire, 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.
On the academic side, 10 faculty members from targeted departments have accepted voluntary early retirement incentives to leave the college, Treadwell said. The remaining five positions slated to be eliminated will be cut from the art, economics, English and music departments.
Treadwell said early retirements in other departments will be finalized over the next two weeks. At that point, the college will gauge what positions need to be filled in non-targeted departments and offer transfer opportunities to qualified staff in academic departments facing cuts.
“It’ll be a public process for the academic community to allow people to put their hands up and voluntarily transfer out of a department where we need a line elimination, but stay with us at Keene State and help sustain another department,” Treadwell said. “Which is the ideal kind of solution for us, because we have long-serving members of our community with great track records, we just have some misalignment of where the resources are.”
If the college is not able to eliminate all five positions via early retirements or transfers, Treadwell said Keene State will start looking at layoffs in late May. Any faculty member whose position is cut through layoffs would be contracted to continue working at the college for one year beyond their notification date, she said.
The staff cuts are projected to save the college about $5.7 million, Treadwell said Friday, making a significant dent in Keene State’s target to cut $8 million by 2023 in order to balance its budget.
Treadwell said she doesn’t foresee any additional staffing changes once the reorganization is complete, and that the college is now in a place where faculty, staff and administrators can start thinking about what’s next.
“This massive restructure is done this year. In fact, I’m expecting the majority of it will be done before January so that we’re, from January to June, working on future visioning, working on choosing our processes, working on deepening student engagement opportunities for the next year,” she said.