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Faced with budget deficit, Canisius College makes cuts to faculty and majors

More than 90 employees will be laid off
Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 20, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Colleges across the country are being forced to make cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canisius College revealed its plan. President John Hurley said the school was faced with an estimated $20 million deficit heading in to the 2020-21 school year, and that the Board of Trustees directed the college to make $12.3 million in adjustments.

"The COVID-19 pandemic created, created a kind of, well, it created a crisis for us," said Hurley.

Cuts include:

  • Layoffs of approximately 25 faculty members
  • Layoffs of 71 staff members
  • Salary cuts for employees making more than $65,000
    • $65,000-100,000: 2% cut
    • More than $100,000: 4.5% cut
  • Elimination of nine majors
    • Classics
    • Creative and Performing Arts
    • Human Services
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Urban Studies
    • European Studies
    • International Business

The pandemic follows several years of declining revenue for the school, according to tax documents made available on ProPublica.

Hurley said most of the school's revenue comes from student tuition, and that the net tuition revenue is expected to take a multi-million dollar hit.

Tanya Loughead is a philosophy professor and President of the American Association of University Professors Canisius College chapter. She said change was expected due to the pandemic, but disagrees with the approach.

“Laying off tenured, dedicated members of the department is a cruel practice, particularly in the middle of a pandemic” she said.

Hurley said that pandemic aside, changes had to be made, but that COVID-19 accelerated the process. In regards to the majors that were cut, he said the decision was made on student enrollment and overlap in coursework.

“Jesuit education prides itself on being responsive to the needs of the time, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do," Hurley said. "We’re trying to be responsive to the needs and the wants of our students.”

Loughead said there should have been more faculty input and transparency. Hurley said he did seek input from faculty representatives on the College Budget Committee, but that ultimately he never asked them to agree to the plans.

“But those five or six faculty members are sworn to secrecy and confidentiality, so the rest of the 150 or so faculty members are 100% in the dark about what is going on,” Loughead said.

Several colleges across the country are eliminating some sports teams in response to the pandemic. Hurley said the athletic department is receiving a 19% budget cut, but that eliminating full teams would not be profitable.