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Announcing Changes Across the University

Colleagues:

To create a more sustainable financial model for Bethel, five months ago we established working groups comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators to review operating expenses, structures, and enrollment data to identify reductions and reallocations of funds as well as identify new initiatives to increase enrollment and net revenue. At the end of the summer, four of the seven groups submitted cost-saving recommendations to the President’s Cabinet for review. (Reports from the remaining three working groups are due later this academic year.) We are grateful for their service and willingness to take on such difficult and time-consuming work.

The Cabinet reviewed the initial set of recommendations, made modifications in some cases, and came to the decisions noted below.

Staff and Administrative: Beginning last spring, continuing through the summer, and into the fall, we began restructuring and eliminating positions from the Cabinet level down. About 10 vacant staff positions were not filled and a number of positions were re-purposed. Since last spring, we have eliminated about 15 currently held staff positions, including four Executive Leadership Team (ELT) positions, and made a number of structure changes. Eliminations and changes occurred in the following areas this summer and fall: Cabinet, Campus Store, Christian Formation and Church Relations, Conference and Event Services, Counseling Services, Enrollment Management, Enrollment Management Operations, Facilities Management, Human Resources, ITS, Marketing and Communications, Off-campus Programs, Residence Life, Security and Safety, Student Life, and University Advancement.

It is important to note that our work was focused on more than eliminating positions. There were intentional conversations about what we needed to stop doing and how we could do our work together differently. Some of the changes that grew from those conversations were:

  • Eliminating a Cabinet leadership position, the Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning and Operational Effectiveness that oversaw enrollment and marketing, and elevating the Chief Enrollment Officer and Chief Marketing Officer to Cabinet-level positions to provide greater voice to these key functions.
  • Further centralizing event oversight and management.
  • Eliminating the Twin Cities Outreach program given our current opportunities for students through the Frogtown and Summit-University program.
  • Building a strategic partnership between Church Relations and Campus Ministries to create the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations. This new office will provide leadership and service for Church Relations responsibilities without a separate Church Relations staff or office.
  • Sharing expertise and staffing between Student Life and Christian Formation and Church Relations offices to staff the Cultural Connections Center (CCC).
  • Restructuring the human resources office to increase resources for staff recruitment and develop department-focused professional development opportunities.
  • Automating the notification and package delivery process instead of the previous receiving staff role in the Campus Store.
  • Redefining the purpose of Enrollment Management Operations (EMO) and restructuring roles and reporting into the departments best suited to oversee those areas: application processing (Enrollment Management), data integration (ITS), and mail fulfillment (Marketing)

College of Arts & Sciences: Six currently held faculty positions were eliminated from the College of Arts & Sciences, and three open positions will not be re-hired.

Some of the colleagues whose positions were eliminated will conclude their service at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Others will remain for up to two additional years to provide a smooth teach-out process for students currently enrolled in programs that will be eliminated.

The CAS Office of Academic Affairs will ensure that there is a plan in place for students in majors that will be eliminated so that current students can complete their degrees.

Changes in CAS include the following:

  • Some non-instructional release time for faculty will be reduced, eliminated, or replaced by a stipend in a number of areas.
  • Elimination of Departments, Majors, and Minors
    • We will discontinue the Department of Theatre including all departmental majors and minors.
    • We will discontinue the sociology major. The sociology minor will continue, but will be re-located to the Department of Political Science. The reconciliation studies program will continue, but will be re-located to the Department of Social Work. The Department of Sociology and Reconciliation Studies will be discontinued.
    • We will discontinue the majors in media production and independent filmmaking. The media production minor will continue.
    • We will discontinue the film studies minor.
    • We will discontinue the majors in physical education K-12 and health education 5-12.
  • Changes in Academic Programs and Course Offerings
    • The number of students admitted to the Nursing Program each year will be reduced from 90 to 72, beginning with students applying for admission for spring 2020.
    • The Developmental and Adapted Physical Education (DAPE) endorsement in the Department of Human Kinetics and Applied Health Science will move to the Graduate School.
    • Upper division Greek courses in the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies will be discontinued. Students will be able to take those courses at Bethel Seminary.
    • All K-12/5-12 methods courses in the Department of Education that are currently offered both in CAS and the Graduate School will be shared by both schools in place of separate courses.
    • The leadership studies minor in the Department of Business and Economics will be offered in Summer School only. This will shift full-time Business and Economics faculty into other departmental courses during the academic year.

College of Adult & Professional Studies, Bethel Seminary, and Graduate School: It was our intention to announce all changes with this one email, but the proposed changes for the College of Adult & Professional Studies, Bethel Seminary, and Graduate School need further review. The CAPS/Sem/GS working group turned in their recommendations on August 1. We are still wrestling with the decisions. At this point, we do not know when the decisions will be finalized.

Health Plan: Enhanced budget management has allowed us to develop a reserve for the health plan that will provide increased financial stability if unexpected health plan expenses occur.

This is a lot of information to digest, but we thought it was best to present it all in one email. We will also gather as a faculty and staff community on Tuesday, September 25, from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (CT) in the Underground where you will hear about these changes in person and have an opportunity to ask questions from the floor.

These decisions are difficult. We grieve together. We remember our colleagues and friends impacted by these decisions, and pray for them and their families during this time of significant change.

We also remember that while we live in a rapidly changing educational environment, God continues to do transforming work in the lives of our students through their Bethel education. For that, we are grateful to God and put our trust in Him for Bethel’s future.

Serving together,

Jay, John, Pat, Deb, Mark, Ruben, Michael, and Cara