Approximately fifty five staff members will be leaving Knox in a reduction in force in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The staff members include union and non-union employees, both salaried and hourly. Most of the staff work in support for on-campus housing. They were informed by Tuesday, April 14. The reduction will be effective on April 18, Director of Government and Community Relations Karrie Heartlein told TKS in an email.
Currently, it is planned for the workforce to be called back in the fall once on-campus classes resume. Those affected will also be eligible for unemployment benefits, including the extended benefits offered in response to the pandemic.
Knox normally employs around 472 people, including faculty and staff.
The reduction follows the loss of room and board fees from most on-campus students for Spring Term. In an announcement to the Knox community, President Teresa Amott said not having the room and board fees led to a loss of $3 million of expected revenue. This is on top of an existing deficit for the year, which earlier measures had already helped reduce.
“Enrollment has fallen over the last three years, even as we’ve worked extremely hard to recruit each new class,” Amott wrote. “As a result, efforts were already underway to rein in a growing structural budget deficit that was necessitating difficult decisions.”
Currently, only around 175 students are living on-campus, meaning less support is needed for them.
Amott also asked for the support of the community going forward, both through the Knox Fund, created to help students during the pandemic and through other means such as recommending high school students to Knox. She also welcomed ideas from the community.
“Given the factors noted above, and understanding that there is potential for long-term disruption until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, my senior staff and I have created financial and operational plans that position the College for the future,” Amott wrote. “Today, I let our campus community know that we will undertake a number of expense reductions to position the College to weather this storm, including hiring freezes, reduction in hours, furloughs, and layoffs. We expect to announce additional measures as needed.”