PUC could lay off faculty and staff

2013-08-07T14:00:00Z 2013-08-08T11:52:04Z PUC could lay off faculty and staffBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Another round of cuts may be implemented at Purdue University Calumet as the regional campus tries to stave off a multimillion-dollar deficit. The cuts could include faculty and staff.

Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon is scheduled to address the staff Thursday in a town hall-style meeting, discussing the budget crisis and plans to cut some academic-related positions in response to the shortfall.

University officials said the revenue shortfall is the result of decreased enrollment. Purdue Calumet spokesman Wes Lukoshus announced earlier this year the regional campus was facing a $4 million deficit. It closed its Academic Learning Center in Merrillville, saving $280,000 in annual operating costs.

In April, Lukoshus said the university would cut some tenure-track faculty and staff over the next 18 months to make up for its enrollment shortage. Purdue Calumet has about 250 tenured and tenure-track faculty. Tenure-track faculty are considered assistant professors.

As the fall semester begins, Purdue Calumet is predicting a 7 percent decrease in enrollment translating to a $3 million shortfall in revenue.

Lukoshus said faculty must be given timely notice of termination but all of them would continue to teach this academic year based on their contract.

University leaders then would address the shortfall, cutting $1.5 million on the academic side and $1.5 million divided among staff and administrators, and operational expenses.

"We'll scrutinize everything in our budget and look for the most prudent way to address it," Lukoshus said.

The university is offering a retirement incentive package to qualified faculty through Sunday, and Lukoshus added that some people may opt to take the retirement package.

Although enrollment has dropped, Purdue Calumet officials announced last month the campus is attracting more students who are better prepared to earn a degree from PUC.

In its transition from an all-purpose campus to a regional university committed to increasing bachelor's and master’s degree graduates, Purdue Calumet has seen average SAT/ACT scores, high school grade point averages and the high school class ranks of its entering freshman class increase over the past four years.

From fall 2009 to 2012, the average SAT and ACT scores at Northwest Indiana’s largest university have jumped to 1447 from 1371, and to 21.5 from 19.9, respectively. The percentage of freshman enrollees who achieved a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher leaped to 21.5 percent from 6.7 percent. The number of new Purdue students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their class increased to 15 percent from 10 percent.

University leaders also are looking at ways to grow the university's enrollment and has expanded the athletic program to 12 teams. The goal is to join the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division II level. The university has added two new sports each year including soccer, cross country, tennis and golf. This fall, the university will add men's baseball and women's softball.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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