By The Arkadelphian
Citing a “substantially misaligned” ratio of instructor cost to a shrinking pool of students, Henderson State University’s Financial Exigency Committee is eyeing the school’s professors in its next round of financial decisions.
The school operated at a loss of $13.7 million in the 2020-2021 academic school year, Chancellor Chuck Ambrose pointed out in an April 20 letter to the Henderson community.
All instructional programs across the university have been operating at a loss, an “unsustainable” practice and why the School with a Heart struggled financially despite receiving state and federal funding, Ambrose said.
“We cannot grow our way out of this challenge,” he added. “Our only choice is to reduce instructional costs.”
During the year Ambrose cited, instructors’ salaries and benefits made up 70 percent of the total academic costs, with tenured and tenure-lined faculty comprising the bulk of that total, 75 percent.
Total credit hours students enrolled in and completed, meanwhile, took a campus-wide dip, falling “roughly” 9 percent each year since 2019, according to Ambrose.
What it boils down to, he explained, is the university is teaching fewer students while maintaining a “substantially misaligned” base of instructor cost.
In explaining the situation, a digital dashboard was created to provide more insight.
Henderson, Ambrose said, “must reduce instructional positions.”
The Financial Exigency Committee is slated to submit its recommendations to the chancellor by April 27, then he and a senior leadership team will also make recommendations to the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees.
A board meeting is likely to be scheduled during the first week of May.
“Our next steps are difficult, but necessary,” Ambrose said.