Cuts made to fight for financial health

October 31, 2013 | 4 p.m.

Prioritization and Preview process eliminates multiple majors and staff members

News | Sarah Boadwine and Tori Sundholm for The Clarion

With the end of financial hardships far from near, Bethel has made the decision to take appropriate steps in reprioritizing aspects of the university. On Oct. 18 President Jay Barnes sent an email to the student body addressing the recent cuts that have been made in a process known as Prioritize and Review. This process started during the 2012-13 school year as a plan of action to take that next step in curing Bethel’s financial state.

The mission of Prioritize and Review was to review departments based on how essential they are for the university to move forward. The process included the review of majors (including emphases and tracks), minors, programs and certificates in each of the university’s schools. A specific set of seven criteria was established in order to review these programs in an appropriate and effective manor.

The criteria included contribution to the unique mission and focus of the school, enrollment trends in the past 10 years, number of graduates as a percentage of a whole in the school, number of student credit hours produced (CAS) or number of student credit hours sold (CAPS/GS and seminary), cost and/or margin, internal impact, use of assessment data for program improvement and unique or distinctive contribution to the university.

These criteria where closely examined and reviewed by a working team of faculty and staff led by the VP/Dean of each individual school. The cabinet concluded on an overall target of $7 million on cuts for the prioritization process. By Sep. 6, each of the teams submitted a list of recommended cuts.

The majors and programs that have been cut as a product of this process are as follows:
• applied performance (composition and vocal)
• French education
• middle level education, French endorsement
• music education
• sacred music
• science education
• anthropology and the holistic development tracks within sociocultural studies
• technical design emphasis in theatre
• French minor
• Antioch Way program

For all of these departments, students who have declared a major in CAS or enrolled in a specific degree program in CAPS/GS or the seminary will be able to complete their degrees.
Along with the elimination of these academic departments came the eliminations of 14 faculty and staff members. Four of these positions were tenured. Cuts were made throughout all of the schools of the university.

“During the Prioritization and Review process we examined all areas of the university to plan strategically for the future of the university…

That process has identified some staff positions for elimination, created a small number of new positions and identified several positions for modification or reassignment” Director of Human Resources Cara Wald said in an email that was sent to faculty.

Of the total full-time positions at the university, approximately 24 percent of the seminary faculty positions were eliminated, six percent of CAPS/GS faculty and four percent of CAS faculty.

Other changes that were made in response to the review include capping the admission of the social work program to 24 students a year, shifting science education classes to the graduate school, moving art education methods classes to the graduate school and eliminating all German courses.

“This work reflects very hard choices and is critical to our ability to move forward with our mission,” Executive Vise President and Provost Deb Harless said, in an email sent out to staff in regards to the Prioritization and Review report.

Further position eliminations will take place during upcoming months. Staff in St. Paul whose positions will be eliminated will receive notice on Monday, Nov. 11. Along with this, staff members whose positions will be eliminated at Bethel’s San Diego campus will be notified on Nov. 8. All of these staff members will have the option of working up until Nov. 22. Some Bethel positions have been modified due to Prioritize and Review. Human Resources will address those modifications and their necessary adjustments on Nov. 11 and 12.

The university is not taking this process lightly and is offering services to help its students and staff cope with the necessary cuts. On Nov. 12, President Jay Barnes will host a time of prayer and will address the affected staff and their families. On Nov. 13, BSA will be sponsoring a town hall meeting in Benson Great Hall to give students a stronger understanding of the Prioritize and Review process along with a chance to ask questions.

The most recent cuts are to be followed up with another round of cuts later this year. How these cuts will affect Bethel and its students is not clear.

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