Pandemic forces budget cuts at Earlham
May 27, 2020
With enrollment and expenses severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Earlham College will be making $7.6 million in budget cuts for the next fiscal year, President Anne Houtman announced today.
As of July 1, 34 positions will be eliminated and 27 will be restructured through efficiencies across campus.
Houtman, who came to Earlham in July 2019, said she directed that savings be identified across the board in areas that would not negatively impact the classroom experience, the centerpiece of an Earlham education and what she termed “our greatest strength.” The College is ranked among the best in the country for the faculty-student classroom experience.
Budget decisions were further guided by Earlham’s strategic priorities, which include the imperative to develop a sustainable financial model after years of deficit spending that was funded by the College’s sizeable endowment—a situation the new president has been charged to correct.
“I don’t have to tell you that we are facing a perfect storm of an unprecedented nature — deficit spending for several years, now exacerbated by COVID-19, which has upended our enrollment projections and significantly added to our deficit,” Houtman said. “New student enrollment for the fall is half what we modeled for and built our budget around, and that goal was conservative before the pandemic struck. It is imperative we act now, both to reduce our current deficit and ensure Earlham’s future.”
The College will observe its 175th anniversary in 2022. “We simply must make the hard budget decisions that will ensure Earlham’s survival for another 175 years,” Houtman said.
“Words cannot adequately express my sorrow over these developments,” she said. “We truly are at a critical point in our history that requires sacrifices from every area. We are in no danger of closing — that is the good news — because we are fortunate to have our endowment as a safety net. But, as you know, that net has been stretched to a dangerous level and we cannot use it to fix the structural budget shortfalls compounded by COVID-19.
“I remain confident that we will weather this storm and we will right our financial ship, emerging stronger,” she added. “Earlham’s future will be secured, but the passage will be rough."
Brian Zimmerman, director of media relations