May 25, 2022


Skillful Business Crafters

WestConn is in ‘serious financial difficulty’

DANBURY — Western Connecticut State University is facing “serious financial difficulty” and must reevaluate staffing, structure and programs to curb spending, a report found.

As enrollment declines, the university operates on a “structural deficit,” dipping into its reserves almost every year for the past decade and is worse off financially than the other three state universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, according to the January report from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, a Colorado-based nonprofit that works with post-secondary institutions across the country and world.

“The institution has an expenditure control problem, not a revenue problem,” the report states. “This problem can be addressed by cutting costs, increasing enrollments without increasing expenditures, or some combination of these two strategies. Given the immediacy of the financial issues facing the University, short-term solutions will likely have to focus on cutting costs; benefiting from enrollment increases is a longer-term remedy.”

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system requested the report due to Western’s financial challenges and agrees with its findings, said Leigh Appleby, spokesman for the CSCU system.

“NCHEMS has produced a first report with immediate recommendations, and CSCU is currently working closely with the WCSU leadership team to ensure they are implemented,” he said in a statement. “A second set of recommendations will be provided later this year by NCHEMS intended to strengthen long-term viability for the institution.”

The findings surprised faculty, who weren’t interviewed for the report, said Rotua Lumbantobing, chapter president of the WSCU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the union representing faculty at the university. She said the university hadn’t been transparent with faculty about these issues.