By ROGER SCHNEIDER
---- — GOSHEN — Goshen College is continuing its restructuring project, which will result in the loss of jobs and the consolidation of administration services and a move to more online courses and a new cooperative MBA degree.
Five full-time and three part-time jobs will be cut and five other positions will be reduced in hours. In addition, seven positions vacated due to normal turnover will not be filled, according to college officials.
“We are working to implement new models in a number of areas on campus that position us for the future in terms of the higher ed landscape,” said Scott Barge, director of assessment at GC.
The restructuring has been ongoing and last December the college eliminated three full-time and three part-time faculty positions. Another 10 positions had hours reduced.
College officials said the faculty cuts had to come first so the administration and service areas could be adjusted now. They are also looking ahead to reaccreditation next year.
Before the most recent reductions, the college had 210 full- and part-time administrative employees and 96 full- and part-time teaching faculty on staff.
Barge said students who return to campus in late summer will notice several changes:
• A combination of student services into one office that coordinates those services. “That allows us to find efficiencies in how we operate,” Barge said. Those efficiencies will allow the GC staff to offer longer hours for student services.
• Marketing the college and recruitment of students. Those changes will include more digital information and use of social media.
• More collaboration between the college’s information technology department and the library staff. Barge said books won’t be going away, but more information will be accessible through non-traditional sources. “We want to continue our investments in making the library a technology rich learning environment,” Barge said.
• Printing and mailing services will be integrated into the information technology department to reduce the use of paper.
“These aren’t changes that will happen overnight,” Barge said. “It’s not like you come to campus in six weeks and you won’t find paper. This is another step.”
• Integration of career services and the alumni office. “As you can imagine there are a lot of opportunities there for connecting with our alums and using our alums in the best sense of the word, using our alums as a resource for our current students.”
The college has an endowment of $110 million, which Jim Histand, vice president of finance, said is hefty for a small private college. He said that endowment was about $125 million before the 2008 recession and was reduced by the decline in the equity markets.
The college’s board has also dipped into that endowment recently for some operation funds.
The current annual budget for the college is $33 million and Barge said the goal is to balance the budget without hitting students with extreme increases in tuition and room and board rates.
“The national conversation is about the rising prices...” Barge said. “We are doing this work right now within the context of that conversation. We could have opted to just pass on additional expenses to our students via tuition, but we didn’t feel like that was a responsible thing to do.”
Histand said this past year the tuition increase was 3.8 percent. He believes this coming year the increase will be between 3 to 4 percent.
A changing world
Goshen College’s restructuring plan has a goal of keeping abreast of changes in society that are impacting students and families that will look for a college in the future, according to Histand and Barge.
“Higher education as an industry is going through this kind of consolidation as it continues to adapt to the changing marketplace,” Histand said.
“Certainly students today have many more options than the historic model of choosing to go off to a college or university and living there for four years and graduating. They have options to get some credits in high school, get some credits at local institutions and transfer them to four-year institutions they are planning to get a degree from. They can get credits online... there are just many more options.”
As part of the changes, Histand said some courses will be put online and an effort will be made to reach out to adults who want higher education oportunities.
In addition, the college is partnering with Bluffton College in Ohio and Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, to create a master of business administration degree that can be completed mostly online. Students in that program will have to attend one of the colleges for a short time, perhaps just for a week, to complete a service portion of the program.
“We continue to believe the world of higher education is going to continue to move toward these kinds of collaborative ways to work together in order to deliver the curriculum and do it most efficiently on a cost basis,” Histand said. “This is a piece of all that.”