Columbia College Chicago lays off 70 faculty and staff members amid budget deficit

Columbia College Chicago announced this week it is laying off 70 faculty and staff members to reposition itself as a decline in enrollment has led to a growing budget shortfall.

Another 32 vacant positions will be eliminated, a school spokesperson said in a statement.

The school’s budget deficit has ballooned to an expected $38 million from about $20 million last year.

The layoffs come a few months after Columbia College President Kwang-Wu Kim announced he is stepping down this year after more than a decade on the job. Kim was the target of criticism during a six-week strike by adjunct faculty that upended the school’s fall semester and left many students questioning whether they would return in the spring.

Staff members being laid off work in positions “across the college,” leaving 1,340 faculty positions after the layoffs, the college said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the laid-off employees were faculty or staff. Impacted workers will receive severance packages.

“Declining enrollment trends, which have affected much of U.S. higher education, have contributed to deficits, and administrative adjustments are needed to reflect the fact that the college serves fewer students,” the school spokesperson said in a statement.

Enrollment declined from 11,400 in 2010 to 6,400 as of 2022, according to federal data.

Adjunct faculty workers at Columbia College went on strike last year after the school cut hundreds of classes to help fill the school’s budget gap. The strike ended in December after the union approved a deal with Columbia that, according to union leaders, included restoration of some spring classes that had been slated for cancellation, a health care benefit and a guarantee of instruction for adjunct faculty members.

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