Carson-Newman Strategically Plans Future

Carson-Newman opened the spring semester with strategic restructuring that has reduced its workforce by 11 positions, which reflects some three percent of employees. The institution’s 44-member housekeeping operation will also be outsourced in the coming weeks. The efforts are designed to trim institutional costs and strengthen C-N’s economic position for the future, say officials who noted the difficulty of such decisions.

“We are strategically addressing the financial realities that have been and continue to confront families, businesses and other educational institutions,” explained Parker Leake, senior director of Marketing and Communications. “While it has been difficult news to share with employees, our senior administration put everything on the table and sought to trim tightly while maintaining the academic program, Christian commitment and dedication to community service for which Carson-Newman has a strong reputation.”

The reduction includes the cessation of three academic programs; Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, and French. Program coordinators and deans of Schools are working with those majors to ensure they have a degree plan and will graduate. Five faculty members have been notified that their contracts will not be renewed for academic year 2012-13. Other eliminated positions include three midlevel administrators and three members of the clerical staff.

C-N will expand an existing contract with Premiere Building Maintenance to include its housekeeping operation. The Knoxville-based janitorial services vendor, which is expected to assess staffing needs in the coming weeks, has overseen a portion of the school’s athletic facilities since 2008. Premiere will determine how many positions it requires and has agreed to afford due consideration to current C-N housekeeping staff members.

“These are difficult decisions, but they are necessary for us to be as lean as possible as we move forward into a strategically planned future while offering the quality academic program for which we are known," said C-N President Randall O'Brien. “It's important that we continue to reduce costs and raise funds while trying to keep tuition increases to a minimum.”

In a December 7 email to employees, O’Brien noted that while affirmation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was good news, responsible lean management remains important. The positive report came after the accrediting organization’s Commission on Colleges examined C-N’s financial records of the previous two years as well as a corresponding report written by school administrators.

O’Brien wrote, “Let us all enjoy our Season of Christmas cheer, while realizing the first of the new year calls us back to the work … of downsizing, managing lean, outsourcing, eliminating and consolidating positions, and perhaps programs, as necessary, adapting, re-inventing, innovating, recruiting, fundraising, and thriving all for the golden reward of ensuring an ever greater, permanent, Christ-centered liberal arts-based college for the glory of God in our world.”

“We will continue diligent efforts to match our economic strength to our level of academic excellence and continue to provide our students a great education.” said O’Brien today. “We strive to improve the way we operate because we are responsible stewards of our mission to change students who are in turn helping to change the world. We are the nation’s leader in community service and noted as being in the top eight percent of America’s colleges and universities. Our next goal is to become one of the country’s best supported institutions.”