By SARAH GOODRICH
BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Several members of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s work force have been let go due to a decrease in student enrollment resulting in budgetary concerns, officials said.
Bob Skinner, vice president for Advancement, confirmed Wesleyan has eliminated 15 staff positions, and also elected to not renew the teaching contracts for the 2018-2019 academic year for two staff members and 10 faculty members.
WVWC president Joel Thierstein said the lay-offs stem from West Virginia’s demographic shift, and the increase rate in population has slowed down significantly.
“All that impacts us, obviously, because we look for a number of students that we can hit, and if we don’t hit that number then we don’t bring in quite as much tuition revenue, and we have to make adjustments,” he said.
Another factor in the unexpected news is that there are different educational opportunities available to students now, according to Thierstein.
“A lot of students, because of convenience or whatever other reason, choose to go in that direction,” he said about other institutions being available to students.
“So the competition for students, generally in the world, is a little more fierce than it was in the old days because there wasn’t a choice … but now they have other opportunities,” he stated.
Due to these factors, Thierstein said adjustments had to be made, and the efforts will allow for sustainable future budgets and staffing.
However, he emphasized the reduction in force had nothing to do with the employees’ performance.
“These are all great people. It was a significant loss to the college. They were all wonderful people, part of the Wesleyan family,” Thierstein said. “It was a hard day for everybody involved, not just the folks who lost their jobs – obviously very hard for them — but the campus. It was a tough day for the campus, as well.”
No classes, majors or athletic programs were canceled or eliminated due to the action.
“Obviously if you have a reduction in force, everybody is impacted on the campus, that just goes without saying,” Thierstein explained. “But what we tried to do here was try to minimize the impact on the students. The students are our priority. They have always been. They will always be our priority, and so whenever any kind of situation like this, we try to minimize the impact on students.”
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