Drexel University cut the jobs of about 36 administrative employees as a result of this upcoming fall’s smaller incoming freshman class. Drexel officials said that the layoffs as well as other tactics such as reducing travel, printing expenses and use of consultants, are part of a budgeting initiative that will save about $18 million for the university overall. The employees were dismissed July 1.
According to university officials, 20 percent of the university’s savings are accounted for by the elimination of vacant positions, 30 percent by layoffs and the remaining half consists of the expense reductions made in other areas. The incoming freshman class currently sits at about 2,900 members compared to last year’s class which veered closer to 3,100. The full price of tuition paid by one student over the course of their freshman year amounts to $48,756 for academic tuition and fees alone. Consequently, an incoming class about 200 students smaller ends up costing the university about $9,751,200 in losses without taking into consideration fewer housing and dining fees.
President John A. Fry sent an email to staff June 26 explaining the University’s thoughts behind the move. “To achieve a better fit among enrolled students so that we can retain them at a rate acceptable to a top-caliber university, we needed to change our enrollment strategy while holding firm to higher admissions standards. The result is a smaller but stronger class this fall,” Fry wrote.
The letter detailed that while the university was pleased with the smaller, better fit class, the reality of fewer students meant a smaller budget. In order to retain the university’s academic quality and remain competitive with tuition rates, the university made the decision to restructure the administrative staff. It was emphasized that the budget cuts would have no effect on academics.
“These realities required us to take steps to build a more efficient and less expensive administrative structure,” Fry wrote. “We therefore made the decision to significantly reduce the number of administrative positions across Drexel,” he continued.
According to Fry’s letter, many of the layoffs occurred in the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success, accompanied by others in the finance, institutional advancement and human resources department, as well as the provost’s office and the president’s office.
“Vacant positions were eliminated first wherever possible,” Fry emphasized. “But a number of current employees also saw their positions eliminated.”
These layoffs preceded an announcement earlier this year in May, when the university voiced that it would not be giving any raises in order to save funds. Subsequently, in an email sent to his staff June 8, Fry expressed that the university would be restructuring its administration.
“Given Drexel’s dependence on tuition, a smaller freshman class means that we will operate next year with less revenue than we have historically experienced,” Fry wrote, adding that in the following weeks he would be collaborating with senior leaders across the university and developing a plan to reduce expenditures without compromising the university’s academic quality.
“Difficult decisions will be made in the coming weeks, including the possibility of reorganizations in some of our administrative units,” Fry hinted.
“This was a necessary process that allows us to set our sights together on the academic year to come. I will not minimize how difficult this process has been for the talented professionals who lost positions and the colleagues who valued them,” Fry’s most recent email continued, ending with his reiteration that these decisions have positioned Drexel for sustainable excellence as the institution moves forward.