Holyoke Community College to cut five jobs, restructure some departments  

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2020 1:19:59 PM

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College officials plan to eliminate five jobs and restructure some departments due to declining enrollment and financial issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to HCC.

The eliminations will effect a clerk, lab technician — both of which are union jobs — and the non-union positions dean of students; director of Retention and Student Success; and the director of Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center and Gill Technology Center, who was also a staff member in the Center for Excellence, according to the college.

The union is trying to persuade the college to keep the positions, said Laura Schlegel, president of the college’s chapter of the Massachusetts Community College Council (MCCC), but at the moment, they stand to be eliminated on Dec. 31.

“It’s going to be a huge thing not only for students, but for faculty and staff who utilize these areas,” Schlegel said. “Losing five positions is going to put more work on people who are already full time.”

The cuts are primarily due to declining enrollment at the college, she said, which is a problem that other community colleges in the state also struggle with.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, community colleges in Massachusetts have experienced an 11.6% decline in enrollment in the last year of recorded data.

Fiscal challenges associated with the pandemic also played a role in the cuts, according to the college.

In a statement sent to the Gazette, HCC President Christina Royal said that the college is “not at liberty to discuss ongoing personnel decisions until such discussions are concluded” due to the union impact bargaining process and that college officials will soon send further information to the HCC community once that process is over.

“The best interests of our students are at the heart of this process, which is being conducted in good faith,” Royal said.

In response to declining enrollment, HCC officials are also considering pay cuts next semester for adjunct instructors who do not have at least 12 students enrolled in their classes, which Royal said is part of an effort to preserve courses that would otherwise be canceled. Schlegel said that the college has the right to make this change under its contract with the MCCC, but the union is urging officials to hold off on this measure until at least next fall so that instructors are not faced with an additional financial loss  during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This story has been updated to include additional information from Holyoke Community College officials and to correct information earlier reported by the Gazette about the status of three student service areas. 

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