Concordia cuts 17 positions, reallocates $1.5 mil

Concordia College will lose 17 employees in the next year due to a budget reallocation. Since salary and benefits constitute the largest sum in the budget, the reallocation committee comprised of the vice presidents and the provost decided that it would need to cut employees.

“Many of these reductions will occur as your normal course of business over a year,” Linda Brown, treasurer and vice president of finance said. “When people retire, when people resign, those positions will not be filled.”

Other people will not have a job at Concordia next year. The people who will be let go have already been informed. Brown said the college has worked on communicating its plans campus-wide to employees to stop the spread of fear, but there are still concerns among employees.

“You can’t get rid of the fear altogether,” Brown said. “I wish I knew what the magic wand was to do that.”

Concordia will see other significant changes in the coming months as well. The college intends to shift $1.5 million between programs through a reallocation process.

This number is higher than usual, but not a drastic amount according to Brown.

“The dollar amount is what can be disconcerting to people,” Brown said. “We are not going to have a smaller budget.”

Funds will be taken from some investments and reinvested in others. Brown was not specific about the programs that will be affected by the reallocation because the plan is still being finalized.

Students should see changes on campus in the next five to six months. The reallocation will allow for new programs to receive new funding and develop.

The committee’s focus is on student impact. Brown said the changes will not negatively affect students. She speculates that a cancelled class is most likely the most negative impact a student would have to endure.

One subject that is never touched by the committee is student employment. Brown said the work-study program is a necessary part of the college and will not lose funding.
“They will not be negatively impacted,” Brown said. “That’s our number one priority. That’s the lens through which we look at these proposals.”

While the college went through the reallocation process, it has also undergone a separate long-range goal-setting process called a prioritization process review.

The prioritization process review was an initiative to set goals for the college at every level. Every department, both academic and administrative, was required to report what changes they would make if they were to cut 10 to 20 percent of their portion of the budget. Alternately, they listed the additions they would make if they added an extra 10 to 20 percent to their budget.

“The prioritization process review was to give us a longer term view to define where we want to be,” Brown said.

In a student input session for the prioritization process, Erik George, Student Government Association president, and Chelle Lyons Hanson, assistant dean of student leadership and service, fielded questions and suggestions for the prioritization review committee.
They presented the initiatives that the committee categorized into the top 10 and 20 percent tiers of the college.

“There was a certain amount of magic involved,” Lyons Hanson said. “There was nothing that really came out of the blue or wasn’t connected to other things on the list.”

Students were not surprised by the results of the prioritization process review, but some were excited about the priority of interfaith dialogue.

George described that Concordia may be the only ELCA-affiliated institution in the Upper Midwest to strive for religious diversity.

“That’s going to really put us on the map,” George said.

The committee’s proposal will not be approved by the Board of Regents until January, and changes on campus are not likely to occur until a new president takes over.

There is a risk that the president would want to head in an alternate direction than the one the committee proposed. If selected, he or she has that right. The committee plans to carry on as though the plan will be accepted despite the possible outcome.

“There was a question about whether we should put these processes on hold,” Lyons Hanson said. “[We hope] this process would create enthusiasm in a future president.”

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