St. Augustine's University announces job cuts

People walk across the main courtyard on the campus of St. Augustine's University in Raleigh.
People walk across the main courtyard on the campus of St. Augustine's University in Raleigh. File photo

St. Augustine's University announced late Friday that it will eliminate 22 jobs as part of restructuring.

It's unclear what types of employees will lose their jobs. A news release said the 22 cuts will be achieved through voluntary departures and layoffs. Most affected employees will be notified during the next several weeks.

The private historically black college has struggled financially in recent years, and it is currently on probation by its accrediting agency. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges voted on a second year of probation in December, citing financial problems and questions of institutional effectiveness.

Officials said the move would make the university run more efficiently and position it for the future. But the action is just the latest in a series of budget cuts at St. Aug's in the last five years. In 2014, the university trimmed its full-time workforce, did not rehire dozens of adjunct faculty and furloughed employees.

When Everett Ward took over as president that year, he said the university had to focus on a few academic areas and cut its spending after a decline in the number of students. But St. Aug's did experience something of a rebound in enrollment.

"Over the past few years the University has experienced an increase in student enrollment and donor participation, however, we still have significant challenges ahead," Ward said in the news release. "We must take advantage of this momentum and make these changes now."

According to the federal government, St. Aug's had 944 students in 2016. Of students who entered in 2010, 23 percent graduated within six years and 36 percent had transferred elsewhere during that time.

The school's small size has made it vulnerable to any enrollment declines.

The university did not disclose how the restructuring would work and which programs might be downsized or eliminated. Ward said the university would continue to recruit for positions in critical areas.

"I'm confident, with this restructuring, we'll emerge as a stronger university, with a laser-focused path to continued growth and financial sustainability," Ward's statement said.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill