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Seattle Pacific University Announces Layoffs and Major Cuts to Programs

Seattle Pacific University Announces Layoffs and Major Cuts to Programs

“I’m not sure we can come back from what is happening right now.”

Declining enrollment is the key factor here. We’ve heard it so many times in recent months. What a shame.

The Seattle Times reports:

Seattle Pacific University announces 40% cut to programs, steep layoffs

Seattle Pacific University is cutting its budget for academic programs by 40% — mostly through steep faculty layoffs, effective in a year.

The announcement by interim President Peter Menjares in an email to faculty Wednesday follows several years of internal protests against the Christian university’s policy against hiring people in same-sex relationships. Those protests culminated in a lawsuit by students, faculty and staff claiming the ban is causing the school to “implode.”

This week’s revelation, attributed by the school to declining enrollment and coming on top of previous staff cuts, seemed like possible confirmation. At the very least, it raised fears among faculty about the continued vitality of an institution with a storied Seattle history. Free Methodists founded the school in 1891 with an inclusive, ecumenical vision.

“My heart is breaking,” said Jeffrey Overstreet, an assistant English professor and former SPU student, whose parents also attended the school. “I’m not sure we can come back from what is happening right now.”

But Les Steele, recently named SPU’s interim chief academic officer, said: “There is absolutely no fear of falling off the precipice at this point.” He said he believes faculty and staff will “look for those creative opportunities to do some new and different things.”

Steele attributed SPU’s enrollment woes not to the fierce controversy around its LGBTQ+ hiring policy but to national trends in higher education. Many colleges and universities have lost students in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic caused some of the decline, he pointed out. Students often balked at remote learning, and some stayed away even after in-person classes resumed.

On top of that, Steele said, has come this question: “Does America value higher education anymore?” To some, it has lost its luster, particularly given skyrocketing tuition costs.

SPU’s enrollment has been declining at least since 2015, when it had 4,175 students. In the fall of 2021, it had roughly 3,400, and numbers have continued to decline, said spokesperson Tracy Norlen.


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itsspideyman | June 18, 2023 at 3:31 pm

For those who don’t know (including teachers), tenure is in no way permanent. Universities can state themselves in an emergency and start firing tenured professors tomorrow.

henrybowman | June 18, 2023 at 3:47 pm

“Does America value higher education anymore?”
Yes, it just can’t find any.

There is a reason enrollment is declining besides Covid and Global Warming.. The younger generation has had it with the constant DEI being jammed down their throats by Universities and don’t see them as being needed to have a good life or career.