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Bradley University looks to slash costs by 10% as institution runs a $13 million budget shortfall

The exterior of a building on the Bradley campus
Hannah Alani
WCBU file
In a news release, Bradley University said the discussions come amid lower-than-expected enrollment numbers, changes in the economic climate, and increasing operational costs.

Bradley University president Stephen Standifird says the institution needs to permanently cut costs by 10% to reduce its budget deficits.

The university ran a $13 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2023. Standifird said that's about 10% of the university's total operating budget.

Forty positions will be cut immediately. Thirty of those are currently unfilled. Standifird said administrative roles, faculty, staff, and academic departments will be impacted "by these and additional reductions." The affected employees will be offered outplacement services, Standifird said in an email to staff and faculty.

"We had hoped this would not be necessary, as I indicated when I first arrived at Bradley; however, due to our ongoing structural deficit, it is an unfortunate reality," Standifird said.

This isn't the first time Bradley University has weighed significant cuts to balance out its finances. The university had similar discussions back in 2019 when it faced an $8 million deficit.

In a news release, the university said the discussions come amid lower-than-expected enrollment numbers, changes in the economic climate, and increasing operational costs. The university said those problems aren't unique to Bradley, but are being seen across the country.

Standifird said an academic restructuring process will begin this fall. He said it'll be a data-driven process that prioritizes students' abilities to complete their degrees and maintain academic integrity. He said that will be coupled with new academic programs and the expansion of online programming.

"Instead of continuing down its current path, Bradley must keep up with changes in market demands and evolve to better serve today’s students," Standfird said. "As we continue to grow and adapt to these changing demands of higher education, we must become more agile and responsive to the needs of our community and the world at large."

Standifird said the university's efforts in the coming months will focus on cost reduction, new programs, enhanced marketing and enrollment strategies, and "a clear vision of growth and financial stability."

The university has seen recent turnover among its senior leadership ranks. Vice president for enrollment management Justin Ball left the university in May after more than 10 years. Chief financial officer and senior vice president Sheryl Cox is also out after about two years in that position.

Standifird said a series of forums scheduled for faculty and staff in August and in the fall will provide opportunities for feedback. Those meetings at the private university will not be open to the media or public.

The president said more information about timing and the process will be shared at a later date.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.