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Methodist University eliminating 30 faculty and staff positions

School trying to cut expenses by $1.75 million; programs, majors being removed from curriculum. School not in crisis, but 'restructuring.'


Methodist University is cutting 30 positions and eliminating several programs and majors as it seeks to reduce its expenses by $1.75 million by June 30 and direct resources to growth areas, CityView learned this week.

Students in the affected majors will be allowed to complete their curriculums and graduate in their majors, Director of Marketing and Communications Brad Johnson said. New students will not be accepted into those majors.

Methodist’s enrollment generally is around 1,800 students, he said, while the programs being eliminated have 11 students in those majors.

Non-faculty employees are being let go this month, Johnson said. The seven affected faculty members will teach through the spring semester. Some of the 30 positions were already vacant, he said.

Several Methodist employees spoke with CityView Today about the layoffs. They asked not to have their names published because they fear retaliation or that it would inhibit their ability to obtain new employment. They said they believe Methodist could have avoided these cuts with better decision-making over the past several years.

“It’s not a good time in higher education, which calls for creative ways to recruit students,” one said.

The university is not in a financial crisis, Johnson said, “but rather restructuring to avoid a financial crisis that would occur if MU maintains spaces that are proven low-demand for students, and doesn’t continue to increase focus on areas that are high-demand for students.”

Some money from the savings is being used to boost the high-demand areas, he said. He pointed to the hiring of 10 senior leadership positions for Methodist’s new medical school, expected to open in 2026.

Which programs are being cut?

“MU is realigning to continue investing in growth areas, while divesting in non-growth areas that have had low enrollment for a number of years and that show no growth projections for the future,” Johnson said.

The majors being discontinued have required a high level of faculty resources yet have had low demand from students over the past three years, Johnson said. These are: Fine Art; Music, Music Performance, Music Composition; Special Education; and Secondary Education (teaching for grades 9 to 12).

“Both Fine Arts and Music classes will continue to be offered as part of the general education and elective curricula,” Johnson said, while band, chorale and similar programs will be extracurricular activities.

The school will continue to provide students majoring in education a path to a teaching license via its Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies plus one semester in the Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure program, Johnson said.

What will Methodist focus on now?

Meanwhile, Methodist is directing its energies toward its professional and pre-professional programs, he said, “such as Health Science, Medicine, Engineering, Business, Psychology, and others.”

The cuts will not affect Methodist’s partnership and plan with the Fayetteville-based Cape Fear Valley Health hospital system to open a $50-plus million medical school in 2026, Johnson said.

“The Medical School represents income growth, not a cost. CFVH is covering the cost of the Medical School, through a series of gifts, until the medical school is both solvent and cash-flow positive,” he said.

Fewer births lead to fewer college students

Declining birth rates and declining high school graduation rates have affected the university, both Johnson and Methodist University President Stanley T. Wearden said.

“With the ever-decreasing pool of high school seniors to recruit from, and tuition being the primary source of revenue at MU, institutional scholarships and staffing at current levels are not financially sustainable,” Wearden said in a statement.

“There will be no reduction in current students’ scholarships,” he said. “We will keep our commitments to them. For recruiting future students, we will use a more strategic approach focused on net revenue rather than overall student numbers.”

The cuts are painful but necessary, Wearden said.

“It’s never easy to make decisions based on market forces that you know will be difficult for people you work with and like,” he said. “However, the immediate adjustments must be done for the good of Methodist University to keep the institution fully aligned with student demand and with our strategic priorities.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com. 

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methodist university, fayetteville, cumberland, higher education