Millikin Reveals Reasons for Proposed Cuts

Millikin’s financial stringency continues, and as many as 31 faculty lines are closing, along with cuts to 26 degree programs. 

President Jim Reynolds declared financial stringency 18 months ago and continues to cut positions.

“In November of 2021, the board asked me to declare a state of financial stringency,” Reynolds said.

The administration has proposed the closing of 31 faculty lines and the cutting of 26 degree programs. 

“We have 87 degree options, but some of them are redundant,” Reynolds said. 

Currently, some majors offer both a Bachelor of Arts track and a Bachelor of Science program track. By narrowing the degree offerings down to one or the other, administration hopes to reduce costs while continuing the quality education Millikin is known for. 

In an email to faculty members on Sunday, Feb. 5th 2023, Provost Mary Black disclosed the proposed cuts. 

Reynolds says these measures are necessary.

“At least since 2011, we just have not found a way or done enough to deal with [a financial deficit] in a way that will make it so that we don’t have those issues going forward,” Reynolds said. “So those structural deficits, combined with the pandemic, have just led us to this point.”

Millikin faculty members were shocked at the news of the cuts. 

Over the course of last summer and fall, Dr. Robert Money, Chair of the Philosophy Department, prepared numerous reports on behalf of the Philosophy Department and the work of its faculty, who teach courses in multiple programs across the university.  Despite his participation in the Task Force, Money was shocked at the news of additional cuts. 

“Based on the recommendations that eventually came from the Task Force, actions taken in light of those recommendations, and subsequent follow-up from administration, I think many faculty were under the impression that things had settled down,” Money said. “I was. Then bam! I think most faculty were blindsided by the announcement that substantial additional cuts would be necessary.”

Money, along with Chairs and Directors from across the university, submitted their reports to the Academic Prioritization Task Force for review and evaluation.

Reynolds didn’t plan on these additional cuts. He believed the pathway was set.

“I thought that was going to be enough,” Reynolds said. “I realized at the end of the fall semester that it was not. And so I notified the Board of Trustees.”

While the task force did good work, a new set of data came in that affected the need for the cuts. 

“Every fall we start to look at the possibility of next fall’s enrollment, but we don’t have solid information until the end of the semester,” Reynolds said. “The indicators for us this past fall led me to believe, and I think others to believe as well, that we’re going to have a larger deficit than we thought we were going to have this year or next year.”

Due to this new set of data, the administration decided that it was time to take action. 

“Universities have to have a flexible, contingent faculty,” faculty member Dr. Stephen Frech said. “They need to be able to expand the faculty ranks and contract the faculty ranks based on enrollment, because enrollment invariably is going to go up, and it’s going to go down… We are outside of that sort of natural ebb and flow of enrollments.” 

The student to faculty ratio advertised on is 10:1, with an average class size of 16 students. 

Provost Mary Black cited low enrollment as a cause for the cuts. 

“Lower than expected enrollment and net tuition revenue (which is a product of both enrollment numbers and the amount of financial aid and scholarship funding provided to students) this year require that we continue our work to right-size the programs and staffing at the university,” Black said in an email. 

The need for these cuts is the result of lower enrollment in recent years, and an expected enrollment cliff approaching the 2025 academic year. 

“Because of the Great Recession of 2008/09, birth rates decreased as families were trying to manage their financial futures,” Reynolds said. “In 2025–2027, we will see a decrease in the number of students who graduate from high school because of the diminished birth rates.” 

Moving forward, the University hopes to attract future students by offering additional academic opportunities that haven’t been offered at Millikin previously. 

Students have taken to the social media platform YikYak to express their concerns. Among those concerns, students questioned why the University doesn’t dip into the endowment fund. 

According to Reynolds, the University endowment currently sits at around $95 million.

“The majority of the funds in the endowment have been given by donors for specific purposes, predominantly scholarships and support of co-curricular programs,” Reynolds said. “Thus, they are not fungible.”

While the funds in the endowment have limitations, the money earned in interest do not. 

However, according to Reynolds, “​​Given that the endowment is predominantly invested in the stock market, there hasn’t been accumulation of earnings over the past 18 – 24 months.”

The current plan for proposed cuts are set to go before the Board of Trustees on Friday morning. Friday is an informational session for them to know what is being proposed.

“The Trustee’s role in this process is to ask that we take steps to bring our financial issues in better balance.  It’s up to the Administration with input from faculty and staff members to create a plan which will be given to me for final decisions,” Reynolds said in an email.

Faculty will make their proposal as well. Final cuts will be made in March. The current proposal outlines both University-wide cuts and department-specific reductions of costs. 

The Board of Trustees is set to meet Friday at 9:00 a.m. in the University Commons. Some students on campus are organizing a demonstration. Information in regards to the current plans for the demonstration can be found at: . More information about the proposed cuts can be found at .

EDITORIAL NOTE:  This article was edited on 2/16/2023 at 12:28PM to clarify the purpose of Friday’s Board of Trustee’s Meeting.