Saint Leo University has announced plans to close several programs and to eliminate 111 faculty and staff positions.
Of those positions, 80 were occupied, according to university officials, who announced the changes in a Feb. 16 news release.
Some positions were eliminated effective on Feb. 16 and others will remain active until the end of the academic year, according to university officials, who provided additional details at the request of The Laker/Lutz News.
Saint Leo University will discontinue three of its degree programs: the bachelor degree in international hospitality, which is offered at the university’s campus in St. Leo, and the bachelor and master degree programs in human services, which are only offered online and at some education centers.
Students enrolled in these programs will be assisted with a plan to achieve degree completion. Also, all degree programs in the College of Education and Social Services will become a part of other colleges, effective at the end of the academic year.
The university also has announced that it will discontinue six of its 23 NCAA Division II sports teams at the end of the Spring Semester. The programs that have been cut are: men’s and women’s track, men’s and women’s cross-country, and men’s and women’s swimming.
The cuts will affect 72 students competing on those six teams and four staff members who serve in supporting roles.
Athletic staff will be available to provide guidance and support for students on their next steps — whether they choose to stay or to leave Saint Leo, according to Saint Leo officials.
Plans also call for closing eight of the university’s 14 education centers, which are located in five states. None of those closures are in the Tampa Bay area.
Many of the eliminated positions are in the areas of education centers, athletics and academics, according to the university.
Employees whose positions were eliminated were given the opportunity to speak with Human
Resources about their options, including severance, health care, and out-placement assistance. They also have the opportunity to apply for any positions that may be open, university officials said.
Depending on the number of credits students have in their degree programs, an advisor will help them complete their degrees, even though the program is being discontinued, or help them find another similar program that can be completed within the same timeline.
Students will receive an individualized plan with a timeline for course offerings and course substitutions for their major. Students must be in continuous enrollment to complete the major. Those just beginning in their majors will be advised to transition to another major. Related programs of interest will be discussed with students to ensure a smooth transition to a new program with minimal interruption to their degree completion timeline, officials said.
The changes are a result of a thorough audit of the university’s enrollment trends that revealed an opportunity to improve efficiencies and enhance future offerings for students, officials said.
The university did not disclose the amount of savings that will be achieved through the cuts, but in a written statement, Dr. Edward Dadez, university president, said the university needed to right-size by cutting expenses.
“We are now in a much stronger financial situation. We will now strive to hit our campus and online enrollment numbers; add academic programs that will increase enrollments; develop new revenue streams; and increase our university donor program. These strategies will provide stability and opportunity for growth,” Dadez said.
The college’s on-campus enrollment in St. Leo has been holding steady, with more than 975 new students enrolled during the Fall of 2022, compared to the new students enrollment during the Fall of 2021 at slightly more than 1,000.
The budget cuts and program changes are not expected to affect community partnerships.
“The university already maintains strong partnerships with many school districts, law enforcement agencies, faith-based groups, and other organizations,” said Dr. Mark Gesner, vice president of Community Engagement & Communications, in a written statement.
“We look forward to growing our community partnerships and being a full-service education and training partner for many more businesses, nonprofits, and groups of all sizes,” he said.
Published March 01, 2023
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