Citing pandemic, St. Edward’s University laying off 95 employees by May 31

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to a notice filed with the Texas Workforce Commission, KXAN has learned St. Edward’s University laid off 95 employees this month.

In a letter required by the state that was dated May 14, the university’s human resources department informed the TWC the layoffs would be effective May 31. A communications manager with the university confirmed the number is accurate.

When KXAN first reported the staff cuts due to financial troubles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the university would not disclose the exact number of employees who were being laid off. In a statement, the university said 10% of employees had lost their jobs, but would not provide the total number of people who worked at the private university.

We now know the small, Catholic campus in south Austin employed about 950 people.

“The University is not being closed; however, the layoffs are expected to be permanent,” Melissa Esqueda of St. Edward’s University’s HR department writes to the TWC.

Included with the letter was a list of specific job titles of positions that would be affected, but the TWC redacted that information from the public document.

The university has not provided specifics on which departments were affected, but shared the following list of changes in a statement on May 13:

Academic programs

  • Consolidation of five academic schools into four with programs transitioning between schools. Kinesiology, for example, moves to the School of Natural Sciences from the School of Human Development and Education.
  • The Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies for EC-6 elementary education teacher preparation will no longer accept new students. Current students will continue their studies and finish their degree.
  • To align faculty positions with academic programs, some non-tenure track, visiting faculty appointments and academic contracts were not continued.

Student affairs

  • The discontinuation of five NCAA athletic programs and the transition of Cheer to a club sport was announced in April.
  • Housing occupancy will be reduced in order to provide a safe, socially-distanced residential experience for our students, resulting in fewer live-in professional staff.
  • Health services will be provided via a new partnership with Baylor Scott & White designed to provide students access to a broader range of medical services.
  • After a facility evaluation, the university has decided to close the six lane RAC pool due to its age and condition, and the need for significant repairs.

St. Edward’s University President George E. Martin told the school community the staff cuts were necessary to balance the budget, and the decisions were based off of significant projected revenue decline. He said the plan for Fiscal Year 2021 avoids a budget deficit.

Meanwhile, the university is currently offering 16 new online courses for the undergraduate summer term. Leaders are also looking at socially distanced face-to-face instruction for the fall semester, according to the university.

The staff is in the midst of taking a survey to help shape what the fall might look like. The university has assembled work groups to focus on fall planning for the entire campus, from academic instruction to business continuity. 

On Wednesday, the University of Texas also announced that considering furloughs and permanent layoffs to deal with ‘uncertainty’ during the pandemic.

We’ve reached out to the university for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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