Bridgewater College to vote on cutting academic programs, activities, and staff

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 9:36 PM EDT
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - In November, Bridgewater College could see several cuts to academic majors, activities, and staffing positions based on recommendations made by senior administrative staff.

Earlier this month, the senior administrative team at Bridgewater College put forward recommendations to increase and decrease resources in certain areas and departments of the school.

According to the college, this was not a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic but something that had been in the process for more than a year.

“Universities all over the place are making drastic reactionary cuts right now because of COVID," Abbie Parkhurst, with Bridgewater College, said. "So, we were fortunate that we already had this in place and we were able to do it in a much strategic way.”

The Strategic Resource Allocation, or SRA, was part of the college’s strategic plan which was approved in 2018. A task force made up of faculty and staff reviewed every academic and support program at the school.

The task force determined what programs should receive additional resources, reduced resources, and possible phase-outs.

Based on reports from the task forces the senior administrative team had put forth recommendations upon which the College’s Board of Trustees will vote on next month.

“We’re looking at reducing the equestrian program on campus, we’re looking at phasing out men’s golf and the dance team," Parkhurst said. "We’re also looking at phasing out some majors and some minors.”

Applied Chemistry, French, Mathematics, Nutritional Science, Philosophy and Religion, and Physics could be cut according to the recommendation.

Along with the cuts to these programs, the recommendations include at least 40 staff positions to be eliminated by the end of June 2021.

Alumni and students have voiced their concerns over the change like Daniel Hancock, a junior studying physics, who said he is nervous to see how he will graduate next year.

“I’m pretty worried about it, I know there’s a teach-out phase for students who currently have a major, but it’s worrisome that our professors aren’t going to be here next year to teach us some of the classes we need to graduate,” Hancock said.

The college said there will be a teach-out-phase to make sure no student will be left without a pathway to a degree in their study. Some full-time faculty in these subjects will also stay at the college.

Nicholas Zimmerman, a graduate of the class of 2017, said he was at a loss for words when he heard one of his mentors could be losing her job.

“She chooses to educate college students and has done so faithfully for so long," Zimmerman said. "That’s so saddening to me that she could be losing her job and potentially some of her colleagues.”

Parkhurst said no staff member has been let go because of the recommendations as of October. She said that some staff members may have been notified their position may no longer exist based on the recommendations.

The college said a severance package will be offered to those employees.

Both Zimmerman and Hancock said they hope the board will hold off on approving the recommendations.

These recommendations will be voted on Friday, November 6 by the Board of Trustees.

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