ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — It's finals week at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia and there's a sense of sadness in the air.
But it doesn't have to do with leaving campus for many of those who attend the school.
"It was a little shocking that it happened this week," said AJ Jiles, a senior at the school.
That sadness comes after Henderson leaders announced they were taking drastic measures, all in an effort to save the school. Unfortunately, it means professors close to Jiles won't be staying after he leaves.
They'll be gone too.
"Just seeing all of the professors that helped me out in school and stuff, and you know, seeing them having to leave and go find other jobs," Jiles said. "It just kind of really hurt me."
University leaders announced that major cutbacks had to happen to keep the university afloat. Those changes included cutting 88 teaching positions, or 37% of the total instructional workforce.
It also includes cutting 12 academic programs, all in an effort to save money.
"It increased our overall institutional debt from about 14 million to about 78 million dollars of debt," Chuck Ambrose, Chancellor for the university, said.
Ambrose said the cuts are difficult, but necessary.
"As we move through to think about a sustainable model, it was clear that a transformational change was required," Ambrose said.
Ambrose said there's multiple issues that caused this, but points to two main ones – graduation rates and student retention.
"6,200 students over the last ten years that have left without a degree," he said.
It's not something the university did lightly, Ambrose said. Staff were told about the decision before the plan is brought before the Arkansas State University Board on Thursday.
Ambrose said he gets it – this isn't an easy thing for anyone to hear.
"It's certainly less disruptive than coming into the summer of 2022 and literally having to suspend operations because you don't have the money to pay your staff and faculty," Ambrose said.
While the next step is presenting to the board on Thursday, students like Jiles aren't waiting for that. Even though he's on the way out, Jiles still wants to see his soon to be alma mater thrive.
"What can we do to keep this school going, because we don't want to see this school fall apart," Jiles said. "We want to see this school stay strong for future students, because it's been a great school for everybody and we wanna continue to see it grow."
For more information on Henderson States cuts, click here.