University of St. Thomas undergoing restructuring, layoffs as part of strategic plan

University of St. Thomas
Undergraduate enrollment at the University of St. Thomas has grown 18% since 2017, but the college is restructuring to save $5 million to $6 million annually. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Undergraduate enrollment at the University of St. Thomas has grown 18% since 2017, but the college is restructuring to save $5 million to $6 million annually. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

A longstanding fixture in the Montrose area, the University of St. Thomas is reorganizing some its programs and will lay off some faculty members to help the small Catholic college better serve current students and reach more prospective students, university officials announced Dec. 6.

The university, which enrolls just over 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students, will reduce its faculty by 30 full- and part-time members by May, Vice President of Academic Affairs Chris Evans said. It currently employs 170 full-time faculty, university data shows.

Eleven of those faculty plan to retire, he said. Three additional faculty members will transfer to different schools within the university. The layoffs and restructuring are expected to net an additional $5 million to $6 million in revenue for the university annually, a news release from the school stated.

“We didn’t discontinue any programs,” Evans said. “The notices to faculty were determined by objective metrics that could be equally applied to all faculty. Performance reviews were done by the dean and counsel and the ultimate decision was made by me.”

To better align the university’s offerings with student needs, the school of arts and sciences will shift toward a more multidisciplinary approach rather than requiring students to remain in one area of study based on their degree path, the release stated.

Under the school’s “Call Forward Tomorrow” strategic plan adopted in 2018, it has modernized its core curriculum while maintaining the university’s ties to traditional Catholic and Basilian education, according to the release.

“This is a time of great change and growth at the University of St. Thomas. From record-setting class sizes to a record number of alumni choosing to come back and celebrate Christmas with us, people are voting with their feet,” University President Richard Ludwick said in the release. “Our community, with the support of the Board of Directors, has set its sights on a spectacular future and we are well on our way to achieving that vision.”

Undergraduate enrollment has grown 18% since 2017, to just over 1,900 students, according to university data. Graduate enrollment stayed fairly steady in the same time period.

In the last year, the university has expanded its nursing program, offered a new two-year online associates degree plan and joined the NCAA division III. It also announced a new satelite nursing campus and microcampus in Conroe as well as reclaimed use of buildings on its Montrose property previously leased by The Black Labrador pub and the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library.
By Emma Whalen

Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.


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