- The University of New Hampshire is laying off about 75 employees as part of an effort to reduce its yearly expenses by $14 million.
- Colleges nationwide are facing significant competition for students and rising costs and the University of New Hampshire is no exception, President James Dean Jr. said Tuesday. In a message announcing the layoffs, he argued the institution must proactively make budgetary changes to address these issues.
- Employee compensation and benefits represent the institution's biggest expense category, according to Dean. University spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga said via email that a vast majority of the affected employees are staff but did not share exact figures
Declining enrollment and elevated inflation continues to batter the higher education sector. These trends have hit small institutions particularly hard, though public universities and state flagships like the University of New Hampshire haven’t been immune.
In September, West Virginia University approved dramatic staff and academic cuts in the face of a $45 million deficit. The university's outgoing president was a driving force behind the changes and argued they were necessary so more resources could be devoted to in-demand programs.
The University of New Hampshire is also facing budgetary challenges and fewer students. The university’s main campus enrolled almost 14,000 students in fall 2022, down from just over 15,200 a decade prior, according to federal data.
Enrollment concerns are likely to continue. Colleges are preparing for what’s known as the “demographic cliff” — a sharp decline in the number of high school graduates that’s projected to start around 2025.
"We know these challenges will persist in the coming years, and we must act to ensure that UNH is on firm financial footing to weather the challenges ahead," said Dean, who is set to retire in June.
The layoffs represent a small proportion of the roughly 3,700 employees at the university’s main campus. But Dean acknowledged the downsizing will have "profound effects on the impacted individuals and their families."
Affected employees will receive separation benefits, severance pay and job placement assistance. The university will also offer eligible employees health insurance continuation.
Dean indicated that further cuts could be ahead, including "stopping some practices, consolidating some offices, and ending some programs and activities." He did not elaborate further.
University leaders plan to host a remote town hall on Jan. 24 to answer employee questions about the budget cuts. DeLuzuriaga did not answer if officials expect further layoffs.
"By addressing these challenges head-on, we are establishing a solid and sustainable financial foundation to ensure the success of our academic, research, and outreach programs and activities that are fundamental to our core mission and the exceptional UNH experience," Dean said.