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St. Edwards University Lays Off Professors And Staff As COVID-19 Pandemic Causes Budget Shortfall

St. Edward's University President George Martin told the community the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing the Catholic university to make budget cuts.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
St. Edward's University President George Martin told the community the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing the Catholic university to make budget cuts.

St. Edward’s University in Austin is laying off professors, reducing the salaries of top administrators and postponing construction projects, the private Catholic university announced Tuesday.

The exact number of layoffs has not been confirmed.

In a letter to the St. Edward’s community, President George Martin said the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to cancel in-person classes has led to less revenue and more expenses.

“Reductions in staff were the last things we considered, and desperately wanted to avoid,” Martin wrote. “Unfortunately, there was no other way to balance the budget. Thus, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget includes the reduction of employee positions, effective this month.”

The university said it is expecting to lose 12% of revenue because of a loss of enrollment due to COVID-19, so it eliminated some programs and laid off 10% of the staff. 

The layoffs and restructuring affected "every area of the university," Martin said in a statement.

"The streamlining and efficiencies introduced in the plan actually enable us to provide students with an even higher quality experience than before," he wrote. "Most important, the plan avoids a budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2021, a risk that would jeopardize the future of the university. I am confident our plan will lead St. Edward’s to better days ahead.” 

Professors with the School of Human Development and Education were among those laid off. Programs within the department will not be accepting new students in the fall.

Lizette Nava, who was set to graduate next year, said she got an email from the dean saying students in the teaching program would be allowed to finish their degrees, but she said having her professors fired changes everything.

“I put so much time and money and dedication into my education assets, because of those professors that kind of pushed me and made me realize I want to be a teacher," she said. "Now they’re gone and I’m scared that I’m not going to get as quality of an education as I would have if they stayed.”

Nava said she’s also frustrated with the lack of information from the university about where cuts were made, because it hurts to think a teacher-preparation program was cut before others.

“Did STEM get hit with this? Did the business school get hit with this?” she said.

The university announced in April several sports teams would also be discontinued as part of these budget cuts.

This story has been updated. 

Got a tip? Email Claire McInerny at Follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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