Philander Smith College, the historically Black educational institution in Little Rock, Arkansas, was forced to lay off 22 employees at the end of the fall semester. Due to enrollment declines as a result of the global health pandemic, the college had a projected budget shortfall of more than $3 million.
The college enrolled 996 students for the fall 2019 semester. Philander Smith projected enrollments of 950 students in the fall of 2020, but actual enrollments dropped to 804 students, a decline of nearly 20 percent.
Of the 22 layoffs, 15 were faculty members. In addition, the college announced that it would not fill 27 vacant positions. In the fall semester, the college employed 185 faculty and staff members.
Roderick Smothers, president of Philander Smith College, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “we don’t have a large endowment, so when emergencies occur we can’t tap into our endowment or our reserves because we don’t have that. We depend quite heavily on tuition and private giving from our alums and other partners who may give to the institution so we don’t just have those luxuries.”