60 Colleges Facing Layoffs Thanks to Coronavirus

Nearly every sector of the American economy has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, and education is no exception. Many colleges are facing increased financial difficulties as enrollment is declining, campuses are closing and schools are having to issue refunds for certain services like housing, CNBC reported.

As of early July, 224 institutions had instituted layoffs, furloughs or contract nonrenewals resulting from the coronavirus, affecting at least 51,793 faculty, staff, and other employees, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Here’s a look at some of the colleges that have had to let employees go amid the pandemic.

1. Adelphi University

  • # of positions eliminated: 160

Adelphi University laid off 160 part-time hourly staffers as of May 1, Newsweek reported. It’s also seeking voluntary salary reductions from its faculty.

2. Ashland University

  • # of positions eliminated: 4

Ashland University President Dr. Carlos Campo announced plans to “sunset” a number of the school’s programs as it continued to face financial struggles. According to the Ashland Source, the university had already implemented a spending freeze before the coronavirus pandemic even hit.

One of the sunsetted programs is the theater department; at least four positions within the program were cut.

Boston University campus entrance in Massachusetts
Elijah Lovkoff / Shutterstock.com

3. Boston University

  • # of positions eliminated: Up to 250

In an open letter, Boston University President Robert A. Brown shared that the school was facing a $264 million budget shortfall. To make up for the budget gap, the university has already taken a number of actions including freezing salaries for faculty and staff, reducing the salaries of university executives, and freezing university contributions to the retirement program. Brown said that up to 250 employees would be laid off or furloughed to further decrease the budget shortfall.

4. Broward College

  • # of positions eliminated: 14

Broward College was already bracing for budget cuts before the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the college to close its campuses. It’s also led some students to withdraw or pause their education and others to seek more financial aid, officials told the South Florida Sun Sentinal. As a result of the budget deficits, Broward College laid off all 14 of its counselors, which will save the school roughly $1.4 million.

5. Brown University

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

In April, Brown University laid off all of its seasonal and intermittent employees who were unable to work remotely, including programmers, seasonal cashiers and interns, and fitness instructors and trainers, The Brown Daily Herald reported. It’s unclear how many employees have been affected by these cuts.

6. Canisius College

  • # of positions eliminated: 96

Canisius College President John J. Hurley announced the college would be laying off 96 employees, including 25 professors, as the school faced a $20 million budget shortfall, The Buffalo News reported. The college is also dropping several low-enrollment majors, primarily in the humanities.

7. Carthage College

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

Carthage President John Swallow announced plans to recommend an administrative restructuring of 10 academic departments. According to the school’s website, “this reorganization would include a reduction of between 10 and 20 percent of our full-time faculty. That reduction would include a mix of tenured and contract faculty.” The school has yet to determine how many members of the faculty will ultimately be affected by the planned layoffs.

“The difficult decision to reduce the number of faculty positions will enable the College to reduce salary and benefit expenses over time so that our expenditures become more in line with student interest and tuition revenue,” the website states.

8. City University of New York

  • # of positions eliminated: 2,800

The City University of New York informed approximately 2,800 of its employees — most of them adjunct professors and part-time staff — that their jobs were being eliminated due to cost-cutting measures, Inside Higher Ed reported. The eliminated faculty and staff work across CUNY’s 25 colleges and universities.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city of New York announced $20 million in midyear funding cuts to CUNY’s budget, while the state cuts could be as high as $95 million.

In response to the mass layoffs, the union representing the university’s faculty and staff filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the public university system to rehire the affected employees and refrain from making any further layoffs.

9. Clark College

  • # of positions eliminated: 32

Clark College’s enrollment fell by nearly 31% from last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the Vancouver community college is looking to slash $5.5 million from its budget, The Columbian reported. As part of the cuts, the school is laying off 12 classified employees, 10 faculty members, and 10 administrators.

10. College for Creative Studies

  • # of positions eliminated: ~25

The College for Creative Studies laid off about 5% of its workforce and implemented salary and hiring freezes in response to shrinking enrollment, summer program cancellations and a dwindling endowment, all stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit Free Press reported. The layoffs will impact about 25 members of its faculty and administrative staff.

11. County College of Morris

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

The County College of Morris is facing a $1 million funding reduction for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, as well as anticipated cuts going into the next year, NJ Advance Media reported. As a result, the school is eliminating an unspecified number of part-time staff employees; no faculty positions have been cut.

12. Drew University

  • # of positions eliminated: 8

Drew University cut eight positions and furloughed 70 employees as the school faced revenue loss from canceled events, conferences and summer camps, diminished endowment returns and a decrease in giving from alumni and donors, Inside Higher Ed reported.

13. Earlham College

  • # of positions eliminated: 34

Earlham College President Anne Houtman announced $7.6 million in budget cuts for the next fiscal year to account for financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing budget shortfalls, the Richmond Palladium-Item reported. As part of the budget cuts, 34 positions were being eliminated. In addition, 27 positions were being “restructured” and four sports programs would be cut.

14. Eastern Michigan University

  • # of positions eliminated: 6

Eastern Michigan University President Dr. James Smith said in an open letter to faculty and staff that six positions had been eliminated, though one was unfilled.

“These are not actions we had thought were part of our University’s future only a few months back, prior to the COVID-19 disruption to operations,” he said in the letter. “I am aware that this is a difficult time to be without work, and I am very sorry to those affected by the position eliminations.”

15. Fort Lewis College

  • # of positions eliminated: 12

As a result of the state of Colorado’s cuts to its general fund, Fort Lewis College announced that it would be trimming $1.85 million from its general fund budget, The Durango Herald reported. That accounts for necessary cuts of $1.58 million, plus an additional $270,000 in extra savings to give the school a cushion to deal with unanticipated losses stemming from the pandemic. As part of the cuts, a dozen staff positions were eliminated.

16. Harding University

  • # of positions eliminated: 15 to 20

In May, Harding University confirmed to Arkansas Business that it would be permanently laying off between 15 and 20 employees.

“These are permanent reductions based on a combination of COVID impacts and revenue reductions due to decreased enrollment and longer-term enrollment trends in higher education,” Jana Rucker, vice president for university communications and enrollment, told the publication.

17. Holy Family College/Silver Lake College of the Holy Family

  • # of positions eliminated: 110

Holy Family College announced that it was permanently closing amid financial troubles. In a letter sent to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the school’s president, Dr. Robert B. Callahan, stated that “the impact of COVID-19 accelerated our financial instability and created additional unforeseen circumstances for Holy Family College.” All of the school’s faculty, staff, and other employees — 110 positions — are affected by this closure.

18. Kean University

  • # of positions eliminated: 18

Kean University has been left with an estimated $20 million budget deficit due to COVID-19, and it’s responding by eliminating four of its low-enrolled academic programs and their faculty, the university stated in a press release. The eliminated bachelor’s degree programs are music, sustainability sciences, theater, and economics. A dozen faculty members and six office managers that worked in those programs have been laid off.

Cutting the programs is expected to save the university more than $2 million annually.

19. Knox College

  • # of positions eliminated: 55

Knox College’s budget deficit increased due to the pandemic-related cancellation of on-campus classes in the spring term, and as a result, the school implemented a reduction in force that affected approximately 55 staff members, The Register-Mail reported.

20. Lakeland Community College

  • # of positions eliminated: 37

Even before the pandemic, Lakeland Community College was experiencing a shortfall in tuition revenue due to historically low unemployment, and now the school is facing new financial challenges due to state funding cuts and a decline in revenues related to the coronavirus, The News-Herald reported. The school anticipates a $3.1 million to $4.1 million cut in state funding for the fiscal year 2021. As a result of these coronavirus-related financial impacts, the college is permanently laying off 37 employees, furloughing 51 and permanently reducing hours for 25 employees.

21. Lamar University

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

The coronavirus pandemic — along with declining residential enrollment and natural disasters, including Tropical Storm Harvey — has led Lamar University to make some serious budget cuts, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

“A number of currently filled positions in administrative units will be restructured and, in some cases, eliminated to reduce operating costs,” Lamar University President Ken Evans said in a letter to faculty and staff obtained by the paper. “Additionally, several vacant positions will be eliminated, while certain operating and capital expenditures will be curtailed. Those members of our community, who are affected due to these changes, have already been notified.”

Evans did not specify how many positions had been eliminated, though a spokesperson for the university told the Beaumont Enterprise that “high-level positions were eliminated in the restructuring.”

22. Lewis-Clark State College

  • # of positions eliminated: ~18

Lewis-Clark State College lost about $2 million in revenue after two of its major moneymaking events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Lewiston Tribune reported. State budget cuts and decreased enrollment have also added to the school’s financial issues, leading it to slash a total of $5 million from its budget. As of May 2, the college had eliminated 9.15 full-time-equivalent positions for classified staff and 8.77 full-time-equivalent positions for professional staff, and there was potential to eliminate faculty positions in the future.

23. Long Island University

  • # of positions eliminated: 59

Long Island University laid off 59 staff members, including secretaries, library and mail clerks, audiovisual technicians, financial aid and academic counselors, and art, theater, and music staffers, Newsday reported. The school also furloughed 33 employees. The layoffs and furloughs came despite the $7 million in federal funds the university received to support it through the pandemic.

24. Misericordia University

  • # of positions eliminated: 20

Misericordia University chief of staff Jim Roberts said in a statement obtained by the Times Leader that the school was taking “measures designed to protect the university’s financial stability and sustain our resources to serve students during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” Those measures include furloughing 60 positions and permanently eliminating an additional 20 positions.

“Misericordia University [has] been forced to make the difficult decision to temporarily furlough valuable staff and eliminate some positions because the medium- and long-term financial consequences of COVID-19 crisis are not yet known,” Roberts said in the statement. “The situation is financially challenging as enrollment models and other financial trends become difficult to predict.”

25. Missouri Western State University

  • # of positions eliminated: 51

Missouri Western State University is laying off 31 nontenured instructors and issuing terminal, one-year contracts to an additional 20 faculty members — about 25% of the full-time faculty will be gone by 2021, Inside Higher Ed reported. The university is also cutting dozens of majors, minors and concentrations including English, history, philosophy, political science, economics, sociology, Spanish, French, and the arts.

26. Montclair State University

  • # of positions eliminated: 20

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a $35 million hit to Montclair State University’s budget, between cuts in state funding and added costs to respond to the outbreak, NJ.com reported. In response, the university is closing its School of Conservation and eliminating 18 full-time and two part-time employees in the process.

27. Mount Saint Mary College

  • # of positions eliminated: 42

Mount Saint Mary College announced on June 1 that 42 staff positions had been eliminated.

“These are our coworkers, our friends, and members of our family,” Dr. Jason N. Adsit, president of Mount Saint Mary College, said in a release on the school’s site. “Their absence will be felt professionally, personally, and emotionally.”

28. North Central College

  • # of positions eliminated: 16

In a letter to the community, North Central College President Troy Hammond announced that the school is cutting staff positions and furloughing employees due to “financial hardships” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Tribune reported.

29. Northern Arizona University

  • # of positions eliminated: ~114

Due to potential enrollment drops, Northern Arizona University did not renew contracts for more than 100 nontenured faculty members, The Arizona Republic reported. According to the newspaper, the faculty were let go without severance and were told they would lose their health coverage within a week. The exact number of positions eliminated is unknown, but the NAU Faculty Senate found an “unconfirmed total” of 114 people whose positions were eliminated.

30. Northern Illinois University

  • # of positions eliminated: ~100

“As we near the end of this fiscal year and ready for the next, budget actions that were under development before COVID-19, as well as actions spurred by current financial situation, have been happening at the local level,” Northern Illinois University President Lisa C. Freeman said in a May 29 letter to employees. “These actions vary by division and college and include layoffs, position eliminations and non-renewals. In the past several weeks, approximately 100 employees have been impacted.”

31. Ohio University

  • # of positions eliminated: 58

Ohio University notified a total of 81 employees — 63 classified, 17 administrative and one hourly, nonunion employee — that their positions were being temporarily or permanently eliminated, The Columbus Dispatch reported. However, the school plans to rehire for 23 of those positions.

“This is a painful time for our entire community, especially for those whose jobs have been affected,” the university’s president, executive vice president and provost, and senior vice president for finance and administration said in a prepared statement obtained by The Dispatch. “We are truly sorry for the personal and professional impact on each of these individuals.”


32. Quinnipiac University

  • # of positions eliminated: 38

In an email sent to Quinnipiac faculty, university President Judy Olian said that the school is experiencing a $55 million loss for the upcoming academic year, $10 million of which is due to expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Quinnipiac Chronicle reported. As one way to alleviate the budget deficit, the university announced that it would be temporarily furloughing 130 employees and laying off 38.

33. Rollins College

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

Rollins College President Grant Cornwell is citing “massive disruptions and challenges” created by the coronavirus pandemic as the cause for the school’s shrinking budget, which decreased 13% from last year, the Orlando Sentinel reported. As part of the school’s budget cuts, it will be reducing its workforce by 8% — though it isn’t specified how many positions that amounts to — and implementing pay cuts.

34. Roosevelt University

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

“Covid-19 has had a major impact in higher education and, as a result, universities around the nation are anticipating budget shortfalls, lower enrollments, and lack of fundraising; Roosevelt faces these same challenges,” Roosevelt University President Dr. Ali R. Malekzadeh said in an open letter to the school’s community. “To that end, we must take appropriate actions to prevent our $4.7 million deficit from increasing. […] After assessing the positions and needs of the University to serve our students, a small percentage of full-time staff and administration positions were eliminated.”

Malekzadeh did not specify how many positions were eliminated.

35. San Francisco Art Institute

  • # of positions eliminated: 69

The San Francisco Art Institue made plans to close indefinitely as it faced financial issues exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and laid off 69 adjunct faculty members in the process, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A combination of government pandemic aid, fundraising, staff cuts, and an agreement between the Board of Trustees and tenured faculty allowed the school to reverse its course and remain open, but the laid-off faculty members were not rehired.

36. Simmons University

  • # of positions eliminated: 12

“To ensure the long-term financial health of our institution during this pandemic, we’ve made the difficult decision to eliminate 12 staff positions,” Simmons University President Helen Drinan said in a statement obtained by The Simmons Voice. “While painful, this decision is in the best interest of our university as we manage financial losses from student room and board refunds and canceled revenue-generating programming. No institution or organization is immune from the impacts of this pandemic, and it’s vital that we take these steps now to continue to ensure a financially secure future in the midst of much uncertainty.”

37. Southeastern University

  • # of positions cut: 34

“We have already felt the economic effects of Covid-19,” Southeastern University shared in a statement on April 27. “As a tuition-driven university, we must act immediately and with intention. We must take proactive measures to ensure that SEU not only survives, but can thrive once the pandemic has been resolved.”

The statement outlined a list of steps the university is taking to adjust its budget for the upcoming year, including a reduction in faculty positions. Southeastern University cut the positions of 34 professors, The Ledger reported.

38. Southwest Baptist University

  • # of positions eliminated: 24

Southwest Baptist University President Dr. Eric A. Turner introduced a “University Sustainability Plan designed to guide the University through current and future disruptions to higher education,” the school announced on its website. The plan would enable the university to save $3.2 million over the next two academic years. As part of the plan, the university will “eliminate 14 positions through attrition and 10 positions through a reduction in workforce. These positions include both faculty and staff across all campuses.”

39. Stanford

  • # of positions eliminated: 20

In an open letter to the Stanford community, the university’s president, provost and director of athletics announced plans to discontinue 11 of its varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

“Providing 36 varsity teams with the level of support that they deserve has become a serious and growing financial challenge,” the letter states. “We now face the reality that significant change is needed to create fiscal stability for Stanford Athletics, and to provide the support we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel.”

As part of the “realignment,” 20 support staff positions are being eliminated.

40. St. Edward's University

  • # of positions eliminated: 95

“Due to unforeseeable changes to the University’s business and operational demands related to COVID-19, the University plans to lay-off approximately 95 employees,” Dr. Melissa Esqueda, AVP of human resources at St. Edward’s University, stated in a letter to the Texas Workforce Commission.

In addition to the layoffs, the university is consolidating academic schools and discontinuing five NCAA athletic programs, KXAN reported.

41. St. Mary's University

  • # of positions eliminated: 24

St. Mary’s University is laying off 24 staff members and furloughing 57 employees as it braces for an expected $10 million budget deficit for the 2021 fiscal year, the Rivard Report reported.

“The University is moving to position itself — not out of concern for survival, but in a sincere effort to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic — to continue delivering a quality education grounded in our mission of sending purposeful young men and women into our communities to serve and lead,” a university statement obtained by the Rivard Report said.

42. St. Norbert College

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

President Brian Bruess announced in a letter to faculty and students that 115 employees would be placed on furlough. The letter also stated that “due to reorganization and changes in operational efficiencies, we will be eliminating several positions” — though he did not specify how many positions would be eliminated.

“Although the college has maintained a position of financial strength, the current significant and unexpected financial challenges, if not steadily addressed, will threaten this position,” Bruess said in the letter.

43. Studio School Los Angeles

  • # of positions eliminated: 75

Studio School Los Angeles, a branch of Hussian College, laid off 75 employees in April, including 74 adjunct professors and one full-time faculty member, according to Dan Bauman, a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education. The layoffs are related to a shortened spring semester due to the coronavirus.

44. Syracuse University

  • # of positions eliminated: ~36

Syracuse University laid off “less than three dozen” staff members due to the financial impact of the coronavirus, the university told Syracuse.com. In April, the school said it had suffered a $35 million loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.

45. Terra State Community College

  • # of positions eliminated: 7

As a result of the coronavirus-related impacts to state funding, Terra State Community College did not renew the contracts of four tenure track faculty members and laid off three full-time staff members, the Fremont News-Messenger reported.

Terra State is projecting a $2.5 million decline in funding due to falling enrollment and anticipated additional state funding cuts for the fiscal year 2021.

46. Trinity College

  • # of positions eliminated: 11

In a letter to faculty and staff, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president and Trinity College professor of neuroscience, said that she anticipated the school to have a budget deficit of between $14 million and $21 million for the fiscal year due to reduced tuition and room-and-board revenues, increased demand for financial aid, a slow-down in philanthropy and new funding needed for health and safety measures. As a result, 11 staff positions were being eliminated and an additional 136 staff members would be furloughed.

47. University of Akron

  • # of positions eliminated: 178

The University of Akron’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to eliminate 178 positions, including 96 unionized faculty members and 82 staff and contract professionals through layoffs, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Since the pandemic began, the university has eliminated about 23% of its unionized full-time faculty. According to the school, personnel reductions will save $16.4 million.

48. University of Arkansas, Little Rock

  • # of positions eliminated: 13

As part of UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale’s retrenchment plan to account for declining enrollment, 13 faculty positions were eliminated, the Arkansas Times reported. The eliminated faculty come from the school’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Department of World Languages, School of Education, and Department of Systems Engineering.

49. University of California, Berkeley

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

UC Berkeley has announced that it will be instituting temporary layoffs to help make up for the $340 million the university stands to lose as a direct result of the coronavirus. Those who are laid off will maintain their benefits.

50. University of Denver

  • # of positions eliminated: 38

University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner said in a financial update that the university’s budget gap is $45 million for the 2021 fiscal year.

“Our largest losses this next fiscal year will result from the loss of the room and board revenue due to required deidentification efforts, cancellation of ticketed events and youth programs in athletics, loss of parking revenue, cancellation of summer conferences and events, temporary closure of the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, the loss of interest income that ordinarily supports our working-capital budget, and reductions to the value of our endowment,” he stated.

As part of the university’s cost-cutting measures, Haefner said that 38 staff members had been laid off.

51. University of Iowa

  • # of positions eliminated: 15

The University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is laying off 15 instructional-track faculty, The Daily Iowan reported. The layoffs are part of the $25 million in budget cuts the university needs to make due to losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, UI is projected to lose $70 million due to COVID-19.

52. University of Louisville

  • # of positions eliminated: 40

In April, the University of Louisville became the country’s first big-time athletic department to announce mass furloughs and eliminated positions, WDRB reported. Facing an expected $15 million revenue shortfall in the budget for the fiscal year 2021, the school’s athletic department furloughed 45 employees and eliminated 40 positions.

53. University of Michigan, Flint

  • # of positions eliminated: ~123

The University of Michigan, Flint, laid off 41% of its nearly 300 lecturers in light of a “very difficult financial situation,” university spokesperson Jennifer Hogan said in an emailed statement obtained by the Detroit Free Press. The university is facing a projected shortfall of at least $8.4 million for the 2021 fiscal year.

54. University of Missouri

  • # of positions eliminated: 173

“Cuts to the state budget along with student refunds for certain services have created significant budget pressures on the University of Missouri,” the school stated on its website. “As a result, administrators have put in place cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, furloughs, travel bans, and spending restrictions.”

Those cuts include 173 layoffs, 3,598 furloughs, 2,317 salary reductions, and 33 contract nonrenewals.

55. University of Nebraska

  • # of positions eliminated: 20

The University of Nebraska eliminated 20 positions as part of its effort to make up for an estimated $50 million hit to its budget caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

56. University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • # of positions eliminated: 15

The University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen announced the elimination of 15 positions, which would provide $800,000 in state-funded salary and benefit savings, KSNB Local 4 reported. The layoffs are part of the effort to meet a $2.8 million budget cut outlined by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

photo disclaimer: image of Kearney, Nebraska

57. The University of Texas at Austin

  • # of positions eliminated: N/A

In an email to faculty and staff, university President Greg Fenves and incoming interim President Jay Hartzell said they were implementing mitigation plans to make up for losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Texas Tribune reported.

“The mitigation plans will likely include furloughs or permanent reductions in force for staff members in … units where revenues have declined,” the email stated.

It’s unclear how many positions will be eliminated.

58. University of Texas at San Antonio

  • # of positions eliminated: 312

The University of Texas at San Antonio shared on its website that it had eliminated a number of faculty and staff positions to align with its budget for the 2021 fiscal year. Those positions include 243 staff positions and 69 faculty positions.

59. Urbana University

  • # of positions eliminated: 228

Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, announced in April that it would be closing permanently.

“This closing is the result of and necessitated by the unforeseen and unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic and the associated governmental orders and business interruption, which has caused a significant adverse economic impact on the University,” Christi Cabungcal, chief of staff and SVP of administration at Franklin University, stated in a letter to Ohio’s Office of Workforce Development.

As a result, 228 faculty, staff, and other employees would be losing their jobs.

60. Youngstown State University

  • # of positions cut: 22

Youngstown State University eliminated 22 coaching and administrative positions in Intercollegiate Athletics, which accounted for an overall expense reduction of nearly $2 million, The Business Journal reported. According to the Journal, the cuts are “in response to financial challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.”

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