Manhattan College last week announced it is merging its six undergraduate schools into three in order to “enhance the student experience and provide a laser-focus emphasis on top-tier education.”
“The three schools will provide laser-focus emphasis on top-tier education to our entire student body — whether the student’s primary major be one of the arts, the sciences, engineering, or business,” said Manhattan College’s new President Milo Riverso, who is an alum himself. “I am committed to excellence in education. I well appreciate the supportive academic experiences that our superior faculty offer, as well as the professional connections ofered by our extensive alumni network.”
The programs will now be streamlined into three different departments: the Kakos School of Arts and Sciences, the O’Malley School of Business, and the School of Engineering. The School of Liberal Arts, School of Health Professions and School of Continuing and Professional Studies will now be part of and housed in the new Kakos School of Arts and Sciences.
Manhattan College’s Provost office said the choice was done after careful consideration to provide students with “new opportunities for collaboration and innovation,” in order to ensure the college continues to provide students with a high-quality education. The office says the consolidation will allow students to unify their concentration areas.
The office also stated the decision will benefit both the school and students alike by allowing the institution to stay fiscally responsible and make the college “more attractive to students challenged by affordability of higher education costs.”
The Quadrangle, Manhattan College’s newspaper, reported the school will also be raising the threshold of students per class to 15 minimum next semester.
When asked about the effect this will have on classes, the Provost Office explained that “all students will continue to have access to the same high-quality courses and instruction,” and the school will continue to have an “in person-centered approach and supporting students in their classes, personal development, professional success, civic engagement, and service to their fellow human beings.”
A faculty member who would not give their name for fear of losing their job raised concerns to The Riverdale Press about the changes in structure and the sacrifices professors will have to make.
A sizable number of faculty members are being asked to “voluntarily separate from their jobs,” and the ones still in the institution have been temporarily stripped of some of their employment benefits, they said. Also, the faculty member said there is a freeze on salaries, promotions and tenure as well as a lower sabbatical pay.
“Sabbatical is part of our professional norm, associated with our ability to suspend teaching and service work in favor of research and publication,” that faculty member explained. “Without sabbatical, most of us have no time or means to further our research and publication, which has an effect on our evaluations and our broader value in the industry.”
“There’s no college without faculty,” they said. “True, there’s no college without students, but we’re the front line with respect to their experience and the personal connection with the school.”
They said taking away sabbatical pay and promotions are taking away something they’ve earned.
Back in the height of the pandemic the school was facing a $10 million budget deficit and made cuts across campus, which led to the “furloughs, scaled pay cuts and a temporary end to retirement fund contributions.”
That deficit led to Fitch Ratings’ 2022 downgrading of $86.1 million in Build NYC Resource Corp. revenue bonds series 2017 issued on behalf of the college. The downgrade to BBB+ from A- “reflects enrollment pressure exacerbated by the pandemic in concert with compressed margins (absent federal stimulus aid),” according to the ratings report.
A key driver in the ratings downgrade was a relatively high acceptance rate (75 percent) within a competitive market and the fact full-time enrollment had dropped annually since 2018 (12 percent) with the pandemic making the decline worse.
The rating was affirmed in February 2023, meaning there was no futher downgrade or an upgrade. According to the recent report, Manhattan College overall enrollment was at 3,579, with 86 percent undergraduates as of Fall 2022. According to U.S. News & World Report, tuitiion at Manhattan College is $50,848 per year The total cost of the school, including room and board is $70,398. The average net price is $52,178.
When asked about future layoffs and how the changes will affect both students and faculty, the Provost Office says they’re right-sizing based on the school’s current student enrollment and that there’s an overall commitment to minimizing any negative impact on their employees and optimizing the students’ college experience.