This Friday, seniors at The Evergreen State College in Olympia will graduate. That’s of course a happy occasion, but the campus is also in the midst of sizeable budget cuts because of a projected drop in enrollment.
Like many small, liberal arts colleges, Evergreen has been contending with a decline in enrollment in recent years. But the drop for this fall is projected to be about 20 percent, much steeper than the declines the college has experienced since enrollment peaked in 2009.
Evergreen spokesman Zach Powers acknowledged that the protests and turmoil that rocked the campus more than a year ago may have scared away some applicants. So now Evergreen is making cuts, including 20 staff positions, in an effort to bring costs in line with revenue. He said the university’s business and administration division estimates that a $5.9 million reduction is needed.
“They’re positions all over the college – administrative positions ranging from library to media services to budgeters,” he said. “The cuts were made pretty equally throughout campus.”
Powers said Evergreen is also cutting 24 faculty positions. Eleven of those are permanent faculty positions that are open but won’t be filled and the rest are adjunct faculty. He said student enrollment numbers may still fluctuate this summer. That’s because about half of Evergreen’s undergraduates are transfer students, who typically make enrollment decisions later than traditional first-year students, he said.
The layoffs have affected the mood on campus, Powers said.
“There’s some sadness and a mourning process involved with that,” he said.
At the same time, he said students are celebrating reaching the milestone of commencement, so there’s also happiness.
“It’s a little bit of both,” he said.