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MB schools feel economic downturn

Budget cuts at FPU, TC and MBBS include faculty and staff

Like other schools and seminaries across the country, the three U.S. Mennonite Brethren institutions of higher education—Fresno Pacific University, Tabor College and MB Biblical Seminary—are feeling the effects of the national economic recession. All have announced budget cuts, including cuts in staff and faculty.

"Business as usual is not an option," said FPU president D. Merrill Ewert in early February when the university announced its response to the current recession.

Fresno Pacific University, with a main campus in Fresno, Calif., and centers in North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield, Calif., announced in early February budget reductions totaling $1.3 million that included the elimination of 15 positions, including five faculty and 10 staff. The layoff involved no teaching faculty with continuing status.

Jules Glanzer, president at Tabor College, with a main campus in Hillsboro, Kan., and a degree completion center in Wichita, Kan., announced April 3 that cuts for Tabor’s 2009-2010 school year will include a reduction of the operating budget by more than $500,000 and the loss of 11 campus employees, including three full-time faculty and eight administrative and support staff.

And MB Biblical Seminary announced May 1 that “immediate, across-the-board reductions” would include health and retirement benefits and several full-time faculty and staff positions. Only employees at the Fresno, Calif., campus are affected by the layoffs; the seminary also has campuses in Langley, BC, and Winnipeg, Man.

The three schools report that giving from the U.S. Mennonite Brethren constituency remains strong and point to factors such as reduction in endowment earnings and mandates to balance their budgets as reasons for the cuts.

Lynn Jost, acting president at MBBS, echoes the other presidents when he says, “We are grateful for the faithful support of our donors. We depend on the prayers of God’s people and the support of our owners.”

MBBS is co-owned by Mennonite Brethren in the U.S. and Canada; FPU is owned by the Pacific District Conference and Tabor College is owned by the Southern, Central, Latin America and North Carolina District Conferences. —from reports by TC, FPU, MBBS

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