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Jun 02, 2014 03:08 PM EDT

Bryan College Faces Enrollment Decline, Cuts Positions


Bryan College in Tennessee is eliminating 20 full-time employee positions as it faces enrollment decline, The Times Free Press reported.

School President Stephen Livesay announced Friday that 20 of 173 full-time positions will be cut through layoffs and attrition. The school is also halting retirement contributions for a year, and imposing salary cuts on top administrators.

These cuts come shortly after some faculty members have already quit in protest over changes made to the evangelical college's statement of faith and as Bryan College grapple with financial woes.

In an email sent to faculty and staff, Livesay said the cuts were due to dwindling enrollment, according to The Times Free Press. He said the small incoming freshman classes in fall 2012 and fall 2013, along with this spring's graduation of the college's largest-ever class, resulted in a projected enrollment decline of 100 students.

"In addition, Bryan, like other small, private colleges that are dependent on tuition, is experiencing a difficult environment," he wrote. "Higher education, in general, is facing challenges including the national decline in high school graduates, more families who are unable to pay for their children to attend college, and a decrease in the amount of government aid."

In addition to cutting 20 staff positions, Livesay said top administrators, including himself, will also take a pay cut. He also plans to downsize the executive cabinet and halt contributions to staff retirement accounts for the fiscal year.

The school has recently hired a new admissions director who will help the college in "refocusing our efforts on attracting home-school students, and continuing to work with our excellent coaching staff as they recruit to fill their team rosters," he said. "We are working to put Bryan back on a growth trajectory."

Livesay has come under fire in recent months for changing the school's statement of faith.

It originally stated "that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death[.]"

The statement of faith was changed to say, "We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms."

Faculty member Salvatore Musumeci told The Times Free Press that he hopes the job losses will prompt the Board of Trustees to act.

"I think the controversy over the clarification of the statement of belief has effectively taken the focus off of the real issue here, the one expressed by the majority of faculty, which is a disillusionment in the leadership of the school, and a disappointment in the direction we are being taken," Musumeci said. "The financial problems that Bryan is facing are coming to the surface now -- evidenced by layoffs and pay cuts, and loss of retirement contributions -- and many of us feel that the timing of the clarification was deliberately calculated to continue to mask larger financial and leadership issues, to continue the disconnect between the reality and the false front that has been in place for a while."

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