A recommendation from a task force charged with finding areas where funding can be reallocated at Bridgewater College will likely cost approximately 40 employees, both faculty and staff, their jobs, according to Abbie Parkhurst, associate vice president of marketing and communications.
More than a year ago, well before the pandemic, Bridgewater College began the process of Strategic Resource Allocation with the goal of focusing resources on the academic programs and other activities that are most in demand and most effectively support the college’s mission.
The process is part of Bridgewater’s strategic plan, approved in 2018, to review every academic and support program at the college and, using equally available data and metrics for each program, determine what programs should receive added resources, current levels of resources, or reduced resources and possibly be phased out, Parkhurst said.
Based on the reports of the task force, the senior administrative team has put forth recommendations upon which the college’s board of trustees will vote at its November meeting.
The recommendations include phasing out some academic programs, athletic teams and administrative support services.
“This is certainly a difficult process that results in colleagues and friends losing their jobs, and it is understandable people are anxious and upset,” Parkhurst said. “Yet, in an environment where few, if any, colleges and universities can raise tuition or grow enrollment quickly enough to generate adequate new revenue to develop and enhance all the programs that are needed by students and that are attractive to them, identifying resources that can be reallocated from existing programs is essential for long-term student success and institutional fiscal stability.”
Recommendations include reducing the equestrian program, phasing out men’s golf and the dance team, and eliminating several academic majors and minors.
Though the college would no longer offer majors in select subjects, courses and some full-time faculty in those areas will remain to continue the breadth offered in the liberal arts general education program taken by all students.
Six academic majors have been recommended for discontinuation: applied chemistry, French, mathematics, nutritional science, philosophy and religion, and physics. Five minors were also recommended for elimination: applied chemistry, French, German, physical chemistry and physics.
These majors collectively represent only 4.1% of declared majors at the college over the last five years.
Academic majors determined by the board to be discontinued will include a teach-out phase. In other words, no current student will be left without a pathway to a degree in their current area of study.
Faculty and staff whose positions will be eliminated are guaranteed employment at the college through June 30 and will be offered a severance package.
Because the decision to phase out majors and minors and lay off employees in those programs has not been voted on by the board of trustees, employees have not been notified of the elimination of their position.
However, employees who have heard about the changes and inquired about whether they will be laid off have been told if they will be, Parkhurst said.
“We don’t want to leave people in limbo,” she said. “We want to give people as much running time as possible.”
There are currently 191 staff members at Bridgewater College and 120 faculty members.
Student enrollment at BC this year is 1,600. Enrollment last year was 1,750.