Cash-strapped, The Jersey Journal, has learned that New Jersey City University is cutting its list of academic programs and professors with a sharp axe.
To balance its operating budget for 2022-23, the university said it would cut more than $12 million in costs by cutting 37% of its 171 academic programs and laying off 30 tenured professors. The academic affairs division is getting rid of 48 programs for undergraduates, 24 minors, 28 for graduate students, ten certificate programs, and one for one doctoral program.
Joseph Scott, the head of the NJCU Board of Trustees, said the latest decision was “a hard but necessary next step.” “Our current financial crisis has made it clear that the breadth of our current academic portfolio is no longer sustainable for the size of institution we need to be,” Scott said in a press release. “The low enrollment in many courses can be linked to students not being able to finish their degrees on time.”
“I want to thank our academic leadership for their data-driven, careful work determining which programs were mission-critical and mission-consistent. Now, we can use our remaining resources to ensure these academic offerings are strong.”
At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, the state school announced that it was facing a $23 million budget shortfall for the next school year. On the same day, NJCU’s longtime President, Sue Henderson, resigned, and the school quickly started a plan with many cuts. For example, some athletic programs, managerial positions, and student jobs were cut, and the school’s credit cards were frozen. With these steps, the deficit has been cut by about $10 million.
Acting Provost Donna Adair Breault told faculty in an email in November that the current academic portfolio is more extensive than that of universities twice the size of NJCU. She said that the academic portfolio has made it hard for administrators to do their jobs, led to classes with few students, and made it hard for students to finish their degrees on time.
Breault pointed out that the university’s academic portfolio is 13% bigger than Rowan University and has 47% more programs than Rutgers-Newark, even though they have nearly 2,500 more students. There are 6,549 students enrolled right now.
“We can’t support and keep up so many programs with the money we have,” Breault said in an email. “It’s hard for us to figure out the best marketing investments. We can’t keep up with this many programs, so we were told to eliminate at least 30% of them.
She said, “We know we won’t be able to get back the full number of people who dropped out.” We can’t think that 8,000 college students will move on. We need to set goals and get ready for 4,500-5,000 people to sign up.”
School officials said that students who are already in the programs being cut can finish their programs and graduate “without any problem.” Most of the time, students interested in affected programs will be able to find a similar program.
According to the press release, several programs were supposed to end in the 2023-2024 school year. Many science degrees like Environmental Science, Physics, and Biology, as well as Early Childhood and Elementary teaching degrees, were cut. (See below for the complete list.)
Ira Thor, a spokesman for the university, couldn’t say how many students would be affected by the cuts to academic programs. Still, he did say that most of the cut programs were similar to other programs or had low enrollment.
Officials at the university said that the decision to cut programs was based on “NJCU’s vital role as an institution that serves minorities and weighing the viability of programs based on mission, market, and margins.” Barbara Hildner, the president of the teachers’ union, said that the faculty and staff who are being let go were part of an academic team that helped students and the university get through the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that without them, the school would have closed.
“None of the people being laid off caused the financial problems that led to the layoffs, and the whole university community knows how important they are to NJCU’s mission,” Hilder said. “The union and the management have agreed to work together in good faith to fix the situation with the layoffs. The block thinks there are ways to solve the problem that should be considered.
When asked more about these solutions, Hildner said, “These things will be discussed in negotiations first, so I can’t say anything about them right now.” Professors who are being left will be told that their jobs will be gone on June 28, 2023. For the 2023–24 school year, the university will also not renew the contracts of up to 19 non-tenured faculty, and professional staff hired yearly.
A memorandum of agreement between NJCU and the union said that the university would not give layoff notices to furloughed faculty or staff before Dec. 14 or Nov. 29. Since the deal was made in September, a lot of faculty and staff have been worried about layoffs.
The school is still waiting to hear if the state will give it the extra $10 million in aid it asked for when it told the state about its financial problems. The school asked that the $30 million the state budgeted for NJCU be given to it faster, and it hopes to get $35 million from the American Rescue Plan to fix infrastructure problems.
The Wall Street credit rating agency Fitch Ratings reaffirmed the cash-strapped school’s “BB+” credit rating and took it off the “Rating Watch Negative (RWN)” list. This means the school’s credit rating will not go down any further. The agency said it seems hopeful about the school’s chances of getting more money from the state.
As a result of what NJCU said, the following programs will be cut:
B.A. Biology with Teaching Certification K-12, B.A. Biology (second degree)
B.S. Biology (second degree), B.A. Chemistry with Teacher Certification
B.S. Chemistry with Teacher Certification, B.S. Chemistry and Chemical Engineering dual degree with NJIT
B.F.A. Dance, B.A. Early Childhood Education w/ P-3 Cert.
B.A. Early Childhood Education w/ P-3 Cert. & Elem. B.A. Early Childhood Education infant/toddler
B.A. Early Childhood Education or Elementary & TESOL, B.A. Early Childhood Education or Elementary Bilingual
B.A. Earth Science Elementary Education (Teacher Certification), B.A. Earth Science
B.A. Earth Science Secondary Education (Teacher Certification) B.S. Earth Science Secondary Education (Teacher Certification)
B.A. English (Concentration in Journalism) B.A. English (Concentration in Theatre)
B.A. English/Media Arts, Performing Arts B.S. Entrepreneurship
B.A. Environmental Science B.S. Environmental Science
B.S. Geographic Information Science B.S. Geology
B.S. Health Information Management (Computer Science)
B.S. Health Sciences with Teacher Certification in Health Education
B.S. Hospitality Management
B.F.A. Jewelry Making and Metals
B.S. Marketing (Concentration: Analytics)
B.S. Marketing (Concentration: Public Relations)
B.M. Music Education
Non-Accelerated Nursing Program
Accelerated Nursing Program at Ft. Monmouth
B.S. Physics B.A. Physics
B.S. Physics/Engineering Dual Degree NJIT
Pre-Engineering Program RN-BSN Program
B.A. Sociology – Family Health & Youth Services Specialization
B.A. Sustainability Studies
Accounting for Business Minor for non-business students
Accounting for Business Minor for business students
Cinema Studies (Media Arts)
East Asian Studies Minor (out of World Languages and Cultures)
Ethnic and Immigration Studies
Marketing Minor: Public Relations
Graduate Programs: M.F.A. in Art (all specializations), M.F.A. Ceramics Concentration, M.S. Criminal Justice, M.A.T. Early Childhood & Special Education
M.S. Health Sciences in School Health Education, M.F.A. Illustration Concentration, M.F.A. Jewelry Concentration, M.B.A. Marketing, M.A. Mathematics Education, M.F.A. in Integrated Media Arts Production (IMAP), M.A. Music Education, M.S. in Nursing Education, M.F.A. Painting and Drawing Concentration, M.M. Performance Jazz, M.F.A. Photography Concentration, M.F.A. Printmaking Concentration, M.F.A. Sculpture Concentration, M.F.A. Sculpture Concentration, M.A. Studio Art, M.M. Multiple Woodwinds