The University of Arkansas Fort Smith plans significant changes intended to add up to cost savings of more than $1 million, including cutting the number of colleges it operates, ending some programs and no longer using some facilities.
Terisa Riley, the institution’s chancellor, announced the changes Monday in an email, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A spokesperson told the newspaper the budget changes will amount to just under $1.2 million in annual savings or new revenue and produce a one-year surplus of $530,000.
The university plans to create a center for student success and retention and discontinue its Season of Entertainment line of events and performances, among other changes. A hiring freeze that was already in place will be continued, and the university will drop from having five colleges to having three: the College of Health, Education, and Human Sciences; the College of Business and Industry; and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Riley assured faculty and staff members who are currently employed that they will maintain employment in the upcoming fiscal year without salary cuts or demotions, with the exception of those paid only through grant funding.
Enrollment is down at the university amid the pandemic, but not as sharply as initially projected. The university had been expecting a 15 percent decline in both the fall and spring semesters. Fall enrollment fell by 5 percent, and spring enrollment is down 11 percent compared to last year.
Before the pandemic, the university enrolled more than 6,200 students in the fall of 2019.