Lander University says it will phase out its physical education and exercise studies program over the next few years to help the school balance a $1.2 million shortfall announced last month.
The board of trustees unanimously voted to suspend the athletic training undergraduate program during its meeting Tuesday. The program prepares students to take an exam to become a certified athletic trainer. By suspending the program, Lander will not accept any new students for it, but it will stay in place for two or three years until students who are currently enrolled finish and graduate.
Officials at the public college in Greenwood say they are facing a cash crunch after 68 fewer students enrolled for the Fall 2013 semester than in the previous year. That led to a $1.2 million imbalance, the school said in a press release last week. However Lander’s enrollment would still be up about 375 full-time equivalent students from where it was in Fall 2008, the release said.
Lander President Dan Ball has released 11 steps the school will take to deal with the situation, including not filling positions that opened due to resignations or retirements, not renewing some working retirees, and reducing the athletic scholarship budget by $50,000. The school could also increase tuition, the message said.
“We have been looking at this issue for several weeks now, and these measures are the result of much thought and discussion among our President’s Council, academic deans and campus representatives,” Ball said in a statement. “We have to address the budget imbalance, but at the same time we want to limit its impact on our students, faculty and staff.”
Ball said the university did not consider using furloughs or delaying capital projects. “The problem with a furlough is that it is one-time money, whereas operating costs are recurring. You would still be short the next year, and you can’t furlough every year,” he said in the statement.
However, Ball declined to speak to South Carolina Radio Network Wednesday. School spokeswoman Megan Price responded to an interview request in an email, “For the time being, we would prefer to wait on doing any more press interviews until we have a better idea on enrollment and have had more time to speak with our faculty, staff and students about the steps we are taking to address the imbalance.”