Where’s the money at? – Rockhurst’s recent employee furloughing and financial difficulties


Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

Chloe Fleming, Reporter

The students at Rockhurst University are well aware of the cost of attending a private institution, and it came as a shock to many to find that the school is not as financially well-off as assumed. Many had thoughts like, “where did my money go?” However, it is not that the school is mismanaging the revenue coming from students’ tuition, it is just that recent events have shifted the practice and outlook of college education.

It is very well-known the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on society and college institutions as well. The pandemic and a lower-than-expected enrollment in the fall semester of 2022 have had large impacts on the University’s financial status. These events, along with smaller expenditures, have caused the University to fall into a budget deficit.

In response to the deficit, the University has imposed a furlough and unpaid leave for staff, while professors will have an increased workload for the following academic year. In the next year, full-time professors are being asked to teach an extra course so that an adjunct or part-time professor does not need to be hired to teach that course. If they choose not to teach an extra course, there will be a pay cut for that professor.

Other measures are also being taken into consideration. “Other measures include asking out departments to cut non-essential spending through the end of the fiscal year,” says Katherine Frohoff, vice president of university marketing and communications.

Rockhurst being a very small school makes it sensitive to changes in the budget, “Balancing our budget now and in the future means taking cost reduction measures while also focusing on growing offerings and programs that attract new students,” Frohoff said.

This means the University must be very conscious of where the money it receives goes, and that it must take cuts if that means it will run more efficiently. However, there has been an increase in the cost of tuition and fees for the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year. These increases can be attributed to the budget deficit, as other private universities in the Kansas City area are doing the same thing.

These cost-cutting actions will continue for at least the next fiscal year, and are viewed as temporary, “We are considering these temporary measures to relieve that budget deficit, and we plan to reevaluate our plan for the next fiscal year,” Frohoff said. It is unclear when the deficit will be resolved, but there is a positive outlook for the University.

First-year college enrollment is slowly on the rise, and the University is also taking measures to add new programs which will increase the enrollment, such as adding new sports teams to the school. Although the University is moving through a rough patch in their financial well-being, the spirit of faculty, staff, and students remains high.

“Of course, nobody wants to be in this situation, and we want morale at the entire university to be high,” Communication professor Pete Bicak said, “It’s certainly a team effort and we all have to be willing to do our part. I love Rockhurst and look forward to the days when these cost-cutting measures pay off.” We can all do our part in helping close the deficit so the University will be in better financial standing and can remain an integral part of the community for many more years.