St. Cloud State University’s financial issues and cuts are getting worse, with its $18 million budget deficit in fall 2023 projected to grow to $24.5 million next year, the Star Tribune reported.
The school is planning to cut approximately 100 more faculty within five years, on top of the previously announced 20-plus faculty positions to be phased out next year. Some majors will be cut, and the school will suspend admissions on 70 programs. The additional faculty reductions will come from more layoffs, early separation agreements, and unfilled vacancies.
Approximately 80% of the programs being suspended have fewer than three students and, in many cases, similar degrees are available, said St. Cloud State President Dr. Robbyn Wacker.
The plan will help reduce the deficit to about $9 million by fall 2025 and create a surplus of about $5 million by fall 2026, according to administrators. University leaders attributed the budget deficit to enrollment, insufficient staffing reductions, and high instructional costs.
"Everybody's morale is just kaput," said Dr. Carolyn Hartz, department chair for philosophy, one of the majors being phased out over the coming years. Others to be phased out include theater, real estate, and religious studies at the undergraduate level, and marriage and family therapy at the graduate level. Those currently enrolled in such programs will be allowed to finish.
Additionally, the major online programming push – aimed mostly at nontraditional adult learners – Wacker has said will help raise enrollment and revenue has been put on pause by the Minnesota State system. The push was to be in partnership with for-profit online program management company Academic Partnerships, amid a time when such companies are being scrutinized on a federal level for alleged lackluster education.
"It's something that we're very concerned about — being asked to transform all of our classes into seven-week classes completely online," said Dr. Stephen Philion, chair of the sociology department. "This isn't just putting classes online. This is putting classes online with a private corporation."