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Concordia avoids deficit with 5 percent reduction in workforce

MOORHEAD-To avoid an impending deficit created by low student enrollment, Concordia College is cutting 5 percent of its workforce, or 31 full-time equivalencies.

MOORHEAD-To avoid an impending deficit created by low student enrollment, Concordia College is cutting 5 percent of its workforce, or 31 full-time equivalencies.

Ten of those are faculty and 21 are staff, President William Craft said Wednesday. Some are vacancies or retirements that won't be replaced, but about a third were separation agreements, and some of those people have already left.

The workforce reduction is one of three ways the college is plugging a budget shortfall caused by low enrollment last fall. Cuts in operational costs, such as paper and travel expenses, and new revenue will also play a role.

Without these changes, the college would have had a deficit, but this budget eliminates that possibility, Craft said.

"We're not in the red now, nor have we been in the red, nor will we be in the red," he said. "We've never been in the red."

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The most significant source of new revenue will come from interest on Concordia's endowment, which is at an all-time high of $110 million, Craft said. On April 17, cash gifts to the college since last May 1 surpassed all previous fiscal years, totaling about $19.8 million.

The shortfall is also not as large as the college originally projected.

In February, Concordia officials were looking to make up $5.6 million. That figure included $3.8 million from low enrollment and $1.8 million for new programs and salary increases.

New estimates show the college needs just $4.4 million to balance next year's budget, said Linda Brown, vice president for finance.

The figure changed in early March when more students signed up for fall classes than the college had projected, lowering the projected deficit to $2.8 million from $3.8 million. Brown said that's often the case when students enter college with Advanced Placement credits that make them appear further along than they are.

Concordia is still determining what the salary raises will be for next year, Craft said.

The staff positions that have been cut include support staff and administrative staff, he said, and the faculty are from various departments.

"We don't see that the reduction in students has been concentrated solely in one program," so no single department was targeted more than another, said Eric Eliason, dean of the college and vice president of academic affairs.

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Brown said there has not been a hiring freeze, and Concordia is adding new positions and new majors even as the cuts occur, Craft said.

Craft traced the cuts to spring 2013, when college officials began talking about the right size for Concordia in this market.

"This is not a matter of the college, all of a sudden, saying what are we going to do," he said. "We have been thinking about this for some time."

He is unsure whether the positions will someday be replaced.

"I expect us to continue to change over time, and we might have, in the future, an addition of 31 full-time equivalent positions. We might not," Craft said. "But one thing I'm sure of is we will continue this effort to innovate so that our students can thrive is such a highly fluid economy."

Related Topics: MOORHEADEDUCATION
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