Q: Why is it necessary to cut positions?
A: WC has maintained its current operational structure for many years and made few changes in response to new student academic demands. Changes in the higher education landscape require a different structure and different skills sets in order to meet these demands. To maintain this operational structure, the College has historically covered budget deficits with cuts to discretionary spending. Today’s challenges are too large to cover with just cuts to expense budgets and do not support the appropriate structure to provide students with the best educational experience. For the College to grow in the future we must get to a point where we are generating a surplus that allows us to take care of our employees in an appropriate manner as well as grow programing.
Q: How many positions are being eliminated?
A: Fifteen full-time positions are being eliminated – five are open positions and will be left unfilled. The remaining 10 require termination of a current staff or faculty member. The responsibilities of those positions will be restructured and taken on by other full- or part-time positions.
Q: What are the positions being cut and how are these positions being restructured in order to ensure the work gets done?
A: Changes in higher education have altered the work needs of many departments. By combining some roles, eliminating some non-critical tasks and functions and utilizing the efficiencies that technology gives us, there should be no issue with accomplishing the work needed to provide the best student educational experience. We are eliminating functions and this inevitably means that those in those jobs will lose their positions.
Q: How were they selected?
A: A thorough review of all positions was completed by the President’s Council and a significant amount of discussion ensued after the position review was completed. Some positions being eliminated were open positions determined to be non-critical to re-staff at this juncture. The more difficult discussions were for positions where individuals would be eliminated. Great care was taken to think broadly about the College’s academic and co-curricular programs and to find a way to maintain the integrity of our educational environment while responding to our budget requirements.
Q: When does the RIF take effect?
A: Notifications will be made during the week of July 24 and July 31.
Q: What services will be provided to these individuals to assist them with this transition?
A: The College recognizes how difficult this transition will be, not only for those whose positions are being eliminated, but for many of their work colleagues, family members and friends. Therefore, we are doing all we can to soften this difficult time by offering a separation package that includes 1 week of severance pay for each year of service up to 25 years, payout of unused vacation and benefit continuation discounts. In addition, affected employees are being provided with professional outplacement services (resume development, career coaching, interviewing and negotiating skill training, job leads, etc.) and access to GuidanceResources, a program that provides support, resources and information for personal and work-life issues.
Q: Were both faculty and staff positions eliminated?
Q: Why are the personnel changes heavily affecting staff instead of faculty?
A: This is due to the large percentage of our faculty who are tenured.
Q: Why has this taken so long before being announced? Why weren’t positions eliminated before the new contracts went into effect July 1?
A: The Working Group has been working on this phase of the Vision 2020 plan for over 18 months. The elimination of positions was the final part of this phase and considered only have all other avenues had been exhausted. Announcement of these cuts could not be made until they had been presented and approved by the Board of Trustees and this could only occur during the July 14 board meeting.
Q: Who’s going to do the work of those employees whose positions were eliminated?
A: Because our labor force is already stretched very thin this was a challenge with which each individual VP wrestled. However, due to new technologies, the restructuring based on the needs of a better student educational experience, and the re-prioritizing of tasks, this work will be absorbed by remaining staff. In some cases, tasks that we have historically done will be discontinued while other tasks may shift to another area completely. Some of the work will be absorbed by student workers or fall to existing employees to manage and perform.
Q: How will the work of the eliminated positions get accomplished without negatively impacting our students?
A: Rarely does a RIF not have a ripple effect on constituents and culture. The President’s Council was tasked with identifying position cuts having the least impact on our students yet providing opportunities for organizational growth.
Q: Why were no senior staff cut? Why do we need so many VPs? If staff and faculty were cut, senior staff should have been reduced/restructured as well.
A: There were no sacred cows in this decision-making process. The senior staff positions were evaluated in the same manner as all other employees. WC is a small college and there is very little opportunity for overlap and combination of departments. Each of our departments requires a vastly different skill set that is well represented with the current Council makeup. To cut one of these positions would require the merging of two distinctly different departments under one VP which would not at this time be advantageous to the College.
Q: Why are we creating new positions when we are eliminating positions?
A: WC is eliminating some positions in response to a shifting market place. The higher education market is changing rapidly and to remain viable we must focus our limited resources on programing that is in demand and attractive to our market consumers (potential students) and provide the best educational experience for these students. WC is 90% tuition dependent therefore the best way to alleviate our current deficit and create a strong future that allows us to reinvest in the people and infrastructure of the College is through programing that meets the expectations of our target market. New programming demands new skills sets, hence the elimination of some positions and the creation of new positions with vastly different skill set requirements.
Q: How do you justify letting individuals go who have worked long and hard at WC in the light of our Quaker values?
A: The process was lengthy and thereby allowed time for very careful and thoughtful deliberation of all the options available to the College to restructure to best meet the educational needs of students. The Group debated long and hard, and considered opposing points of view before reaching consensus. This Group as well as the President’s Council, the President and the Board are doing all we can to ease the pain and burden of personnel cuts. We do so with a heavy heart but recognize this cost containment measure is necessary for the best interests of the College moving forward.
Q: How will these cuts effect our HLC visit in October?
A: The cuts should have limited impact on our HLC visit in October. They demonstrate that the College is addressing its operational structure limitations and has a well-developed strategic plan and initiatives to meet the future demands.
Q: Are these all the cuts for now? Will there be more?
A: These are all the intended cuts at this time. However, the Working Group will be working closely with faculty to evaluate and identify potential additional restructuring opportunities over the next year that are more in line with providing the best educational experience opportunities for our students.
Q: Will current vacancies be filled?
A: All open positions will be evaluated by senior management prior to any authorization being given for replacement to ensure that all positions fit into the new operational structure of WC.