MAYVILLE – In response to budgetary constraints and loss of program enrollment, Mayville State University is cutting three faculty appointments.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Mayville State President Brian Van Horn said. “Cutting positions is our only option at this time. We are sincerely empathetic for the individuals and families who are directly impacted, and for all who may be indirectly impacted.”

The affected programs include the university’s music minor program and its HPER (health, physical education and recreation) division. The programs are not being eliminated; they each have other faculty in the programs. The affected faculty are under contract and will continue to teach courses for the remainder of their contract period, which ends May 15.

“In both cases, our enrollments simply do not warrant the number of faculty that teach in the area,” Van Horn said.

Tami Such, interim vice president for academic affairs, said the university has been working with its academic divisions over the past few years to evaluate and determine how to best allocate faculty time in programs that have seen a continued decline in enrollment.

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“In the ever-changing and extremely competitive world of higher education, we must devote our resources to programs that are in demand and that best serve the workforce needs and the students’ career goals,” she said.

In addition to the non-renewal of faculty contracts, current measures being taken to address budgetary concerns and loss of program enrollment include tasking several faculty members, staff and administrators with additional responsibilities that help provide a more equitable distribution of duties.

While COVID-19 has played a factor in the university’s budget, Van Horn said the faculty reductions were not a result of the pandemic. However, it has impacted the university’s ability to visit classrooms and recruit students.

“COVID did not cause this,” he said. “But has it factored in? It's factored in all of our daily lives.”

Whether more cuts could happen later this year remains to be seen as the North Dakota Legislature deals with a tight budget this coming biennium.

Gov. Doug Burgum has proposed a 7.5% reduction in the funding formula for the North Dakota University System amid declining enrollments statewide. A finalized budget for the system is still weeks away.

“Are there possibilities for more cuts? There are always concerns for more cuts,” Van Horn said. “The way we can ensure that we don't have those kinds of cuts is to continue to try to grow enrollments where possible, continue to, you know, be as efficient as we can and then reallocate resources like we did this time to areas of growth.”