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'Keep the university alive:' Henderson State officially cuts 37% of staff

Following proposed program and faculty cuts on Monday, those changes were unanimously approved as Henderson State will cut 37% of staff and 12 academic programs.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Thursday was a day that no university ever wants to see, as budget cuts became official for Henderson State University (HSU).

For Chuck Ambrose, chancellor of HSU, Thursday was just latest in a week filled with stressful decisions.

"The stress. The fear. Anxiety is now kind of realized, and reality it's a hard morning," he said.

After proposing program and faculty cuts on Monday, which included 12 academic programs and 37% of the total faculty force – that proposal was unanimously approved Thursday morning.

"The vote is unanimously approved by the board to approve the exigency plan presented by Dr. Ambrose," the board announced following nearly two hours of discussion.

While the decision was tough, Ambrose said this had to happen. It becomes more apparent why this was needed when you take a look at the data.

"When you look at these numbers, most institutions will have another page that is positive," Ambrose said. "When you're operating at a deficit across your entire instruction, it makes recommendations like today necessary."

Across the board, less than half the students enrolled in certain programs at the start of the fall semester will graduate with that degree – and the university is losing money still teaching them.

"This economic model for college, it doesn't work for the campus and it doesn't work for students," Ambrose said.

Professors and alumni did what they could to sway the board against approving the changes, but ultimately, it wasn't enough. 

One professor even offered to reduce his pay to keep the university going.

"We can work for half pay for two courses," an HSU professor speaking via video chat said. "Anything to keep the university alive, you have not given that a chance."

Despite that suggestion, Ambrose said this is something they couldn't avoid anymore, and that it helps ensure the next class of Reddies have a school to attend.

"You realize that these decisions are required to give us a real hard fighting chance to make it through next year," Ambrose said. "No community deserves to make this level of decisions in this short of time."

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