William Paterson University facing layoffs due to lower enrollment, financial issues
Another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been lower enrollment at New Jersey’s institutions of higher learning. It is forcing at least one university in the Garden State to cut some of its staff.
“This semester there has been more activity. But I will say not as much as I thought there would be,” says William Paterson University freshman Alex Cedeno.
Some students at the school say that there are fewer people in classes and that they have noticed while walking around campus that enrollment seems to be way down.
Administrators say that enrollment has been “drastically down” and that the pandemic is partially to blame.
“I lost a lot of friends who didn’t come back because they couldn’t afford tuition and they weren’t getting the best experience here,” says sophomore MacKenna Baltjes.
Stuart Goldstein, vice president for marketing and public relations at the university, said in a statement that the school is “facing a significant budget deficit due to a drastic drop in enrollment caused by the pandemic, which disproportionally impacted the population of students we serve, coupled with increased operating costs.”
He said that layoffs are on the horizon because of this.
A group of students protested the layoffs on Tuesday. They said that as many as 140 staff members will be let go, including many tenured professors.
“I say figure it out. Because at the same time, these are people living normal lives. They have their families to care for, to provide food and shelter,” says Cedeno.
This issue isn’t exclusive to William Paterson. News 12 New Jersey previously reported that the 153-year-old Bloomfield College is in danger of shutting down completely due to lower enrollment and other pandemic-related economic strains.
William Paterson administrators say they are currently working with the unions and are working on a budget to hopefully reduce the layoffs or possibly even rescind them.
The university hasn't released information on exactly how much the pandemic specifically has contributed to lower enrollment. But a spokesperson says it is a decade-long problem. They lose about 2,500 students a year through attrition. They are currently projecting a near $30 million deficit this year.
Students are planning another protest against the layoffs for this Friday.