John Carmichael, the chief of staff and secretary to the Evergreen State College Board of Trustees, announced in a memo to staff and faculty members on Tuesday that the school has already cut 24 faculty lines and eliminated 19 vacant staff positions, and warned that up to 20 additional staff members could seen be laid off.
“Over the past several days, 20 staff members have been notified that they are at risk for layoff,” Carmichael wrote. “These layoffs, although necessary to stabilize the college’s budget, represent a profound loss felt by many.”
It’s not clear how many of the faculty jobs were already vacant when they were cut. It sounds from this as if the 19 staff positions that were eliminated were already vacant but an additional 20 staff positions that are not vacant could be cut at any time.
“As painful as it is to lose valued colleagues, we know that we must take dramatic steps to stabilize the budget,” Carmichael wrote. “These steps, along with the re-organization of senior leadership positions and fee changes previously announced, will stabilize the budget.”
They don’t actually know that yet. Evergreen announced 2 weeks ago that it was preparing for a 10 percent decline in enrollment next year. Accommodating that decline will require cutting $5.9 million from the budget. But the 10% projection is actually the midpoint of a larger range. Back in February, the school warned the actual decline could be closer to 18 percent. And the WSJ report this week that enrollment for next year is currently down 20%, though the school claims many students choose to enroll at the last minute. All of that to say, Evergreen’s predicament may be significantly worse than the current preparation suggests. I will not be at all surprised if the school goes through another round of deep cuts sometime this summer.
Once the budget is under control, he concluded optimistically, the school will be able to focus on “the critical initiatives that staff and faculty have identified for revitalizing the college by, for instance, identifying paths of study, launching enrollment recovery initiatives, investing in the First-Year experience, modernizing our marketing program, and committing to inclusive excellence and equity for all students.”
Evergreen hasn’t learned anything from last year’s fiasco. So long as President George Bridges is still there, this school is going to continue to struggle. Maybe at some point things will get bad enough that someone will suggest he needs to go but so far the school appears willing to let dozens of other faculty and staff members pay the price for Bridges’ dumb decisions.