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Calvin College Cuts Staff

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Calvin College announced recently that it will be cutting 22 positions from its faculty and staff, or approximately 3 percent of its employees. Most of the cuts will come through attrition and nonrenewal of faculty contracts. But five people have already lost their jobs.

The announcement came from college president Michael Le Roy following the board meetings of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based college earlier this month. Calvin College is owned by the Christian Reformed Church.

“While I am pleased to report a great deal of progress on a number of fronts, I am saddened by the recognition that this progress has come with difficult choices and personal sacrifice,” Le Roy said in a letter to faculty and staff.

The staff reductions are part of cost-cutting at the college as it tries to reduce its operating budget by 10 percent by 2017. That is the year when payments of about $9 million will come due on a $116 million debt that was taken on in 2007.

Additionally, the college is facing rising health care costs. The board decided to move to a self-insured health care plan. Premiums paid by employees will increase from 12 percent to 17 percent, an increase of approximately $600 annually for family coverage. There will also be an introduction of co-insurance and an increase in office visit co-pays. Staff and faculty are receiving a modest salary bump to help offset the increased costs for this year.

This round of cuts brings approximately $4.7 million in savings in the college’s $103-million annual budget.

The college’s financial woes were caused in part by a high-risk investment strategy that didn’t work out. The board has established a new investment committee with a new chair and is working with Goldman Sachs as investment advisor.

The board also approved a plan to appoint faculty advisors to key board committees, starting in the fall.

Le Roy told faculty and staff that enrollment projections for the fall look promising and fundraising has exceeded this year’s goals by more than $3 million.

“Throughout this process, faculty and staff representatives are working together with the cabinet to put the college on a strong financial foundation,” said Le Roy. “I am encouraged by the community’s shared commitment to making Calvin College sustainable for the long run.”

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