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Stephens targets staff, wages, pension plans to meet economic crunch

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Stephens College is reducing staff, freezing wages and curtailing payments on employee retirement plans for at least a year to address current economic realities. 

Stephens, like many universities across the country, must confront the challenges created by the economy, Stephens President Wendy Libby said last week in a letter to parents of Stephens College students.

“We have reduced some staff positions recently and after this academic year will reduce the number of adjunct faculty positions we will need this fall,” Libby said.

Stephens is also holding faculty, staff and administrative salaries at current levels for next year and suspending contributions to employee pensions for 2009 to 2010.

“Employees may still contribute,” said Amy Gipson, vice president for marketing and public relations. “We had a pretty generous contribution level of 7 percent in recent years, and we don’t require that our employees be vested for several years.”

In addition, Stephens is changing student meal plans because of the rising cost of food. Students will now have a meals-per-semester plan instead of a meals-per-week plan. This will allow them to choose from five options, ranging from 75 to 250 meals per semester, according to Libby.

The cost difference between a meals-per-semester plan and a meals-per-week plan depends on the plan a student elects and how much flexibility they have.

“Students who live on campus don’t currently have the option to select a 75 meals-per-semester plan,” Gipson said. “Those are only for students off campus, but next year those options will start to open up. It’s a way of adding more flexibility.”

Tuition at Stephens will increase 5 percent next year, which is less than the increases in some past years, Libby's letter noted.

Although housing costs are increasing by 4 percent, shutting down both Prunty and Searcy residence halls will allow for mechanical and electrical renovations. Double occupancy in several halls will allow families worried about costs to save money. Housing costs for double-occupancy halls have not been released.

“Consolidating housing reduces costs associated with needed heating, cooling, cleaning and maintenance,” Libby said.
 


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