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The Next Chapter for Gordon: FAQ for Alumni

What’s happening at Gordon?
During the 2018–19 academic year, Gordon implemented a yearlong, proactive budget planning process as a systematic assessment designed to help bring operating budgets in both academic and non-academic areas in line with College revenues, while preserving essential support for Gordon’s overall educational mission. It included organizational changes that can provide Gordon the ability to make needed investments in areas of growth—particularly new educational technologies, accelerated pathways to degree completion that can save students and families time and money, and new delivery methods for programs which will increase and diversify revenue sources for the institution. Learn more about the academic changes, the market realities and the details of the process.

Is the College in financial trouble?
Gordon is taking proactive steps from a position of financial prudence and not financial distress. We are making difficult decisions in response to market realities in order to shore up a stronger financial foundation for the long-run. We have seen the cautionary tales in higher education all around us, where schools could not (or would not) make strategic, forward-looking choices. So, Gordon is making a plan to get better, not just get by. Learn more about market realities ➔

Why didn’t Gordon use the $25 million gift from 2014 to address the budget situation?
The incredibly generous $25 million gift that Gordon received a few years ago was a restricted gift—meaning it had to be used for purposes determined by the anonymous donor. In this case, those purposes were to fund the Global Honors Institute and to boost Gordon’s endowment to a much healthier place. The operating budget is the budget in question for this reset process, and it’s what Gordon uses to pay employees and keep the lights on. It’s funded mainly through tuition revenue and unrestricted gifts (also known as Gordon Fund gifts). So, the short story is that restricted gifts don’t have a direct correlation with the operating budget.

I heard the College just shared news of a new $10 million endowment gift. Why not use those funds to avoid these budget cuts?
We are very grateful that during the budget prioritization process, an anonymous donor made an extraordinary gift to the College. This did not come as a result of a direct solicitation, and the gift came with clear instructions: restricted for the endowment.  That means the College cannot use the funds for anything but the endowment.  Providentially, this supports a necessary investment in creating Gordon Global, our new online platform within the newly created School of Graduate, Professional and Extended Studies. These funds will assist the College in getting this new initiative off the ground with the first phase to be launched in 2020.

I heard the incoming class of students is lower than expected. Are these budget cuts affecting our ability to recruit students?
Last year, we had a strong sense that we needed to make fundamental shifts in our academic offerings to compete effectively in today’s higher education marketplace.  While we know that deciding to study at Gordon is about a lot more than financial considerations, students and families have told us repeatedly that Gordon’s cost is a challenge for many of them. Again this year, cost was the number one reason students said they chose not to enroll at Gordon. As a result, we believe these pioneering changes we are making to our traditional undergraduate curriculum (through things such as integrated majors), coupled with the cost-saving initiatives we are undertaking for all of our students (such as the elimination of physical education requirements and related fees and reducing the minimum number of credits required to graduate) will draw more students to our traditional offerings. Simply put, it will save them thousands of dollars on the cost of a Gordon degree starting next fall. In addition, we believe Gordon Essential (which will allow students to save time and money) and Gordon Global (which will provide digital learning and stackable credentials) will allow us to serve a wider circle of learners than ever before.

Was it really necessary to make personnel cuts?
In a close-knit community like Gordon, even one personnel cut is too many, so this has certainly not been an easy road. As it stands, Gordon runs an incredibly lean operation, meaning there were little to no areas that were easily trimmed by simple belt-tightening. Because two-thirds of Gordon’s operating budget accounts for employee expenses, the budget reset solution inevitably required a reduction in positions. Learn more about the budget process ➔

How is Gordon caring for the people whose positions were terminated?
Because of the strict parameters in place regarding personnel decisions (both legal and HR/personal privacy reasons), the College cannot disclose the names of individuals impacted. Even though certain positions have been eliminated as part of the College’s budget reset, we care deeply about these colleagues who have served so well in these roles.  The College is very grateful for their many contributions to our community. As a token of its gratitude, Gordon has sought to offer generous separation benefits to assist departing colleagues. Benefits include severance payments (and a fully funded, yearlong terminal sabbatical for faculty), stipends to assist with healthcare coverage and transition expenses, reimbursable tuition scholarships for individuals who want to take classes at Gordon or elsewhere, and a full tuition scholarship for departing employees who have children pursuing an undergraduate degree at Gordon presently or who have children in high school who might want to do this in the coming years. We are able to offer these benefits, in part, thanks to an anonymous donor who shares the College’s desire to ease the transition for these affected colleagues. Departing colleagues also have the opportunity to choose how they say goodbye to the campus and their colleagues; if desired, the College will provide appropriate funds to underwrite these farewells on campus or in smaller settings.

Why is Gordon making reductions in foreign languages while saying it is embracing more global programs?
The number of majors in the study of Western European languages has been declining across the country, and Gordon is no different. The study of languages thrives where it is tied to other majors. At the same time, with the changes in the world, students are interested in studying a greater variety of languages—our international affairs students want Arabic, and we now offer Mandarin through the intermediate level. We will be looking at ways to tie language study with majors—medical Spanish for example—and to expand options for our students through partnerships.

Is Gordon still committed to the liberal arts?
Gordon’s core identity will not change, even as we adapt the core values of a residential liberal arts education—still the gold standard for excellence—to meet the rapidly evolving needs of students, families and employers in the 21st century. We know the future of liberal arts is education plus preparation, and we’re committed to making that a stronger reality at Gordon. The budget planning process includes a reorganization of the academic division which will change some of the current offerings for specific majors and minors, in some cases integrating or combining areas of study to create new or updated pathways toward specific career goals. The heart and soul of the Gordon experience is a liberal arts education. That will not change, although some pathways will look different. Learn more about academic changes ➔

Who can I talk to about my concerns or ideas?
Please direct questions about the budget process and outcomes to .

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