Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EWC Fires Some Staff with Only a Few Days' Notice; Cites Finances; College President's Letter Says Fewer Students Expected for Spring Session

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EWC Fires Some Staff with Only a Few Days' Notice; Cites Finances; College President's Letter Says Fewer Students Expected for Spring Session

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH KORMANIK, The Times-Union

Anticipating budget problems because of low enrollment this semester, Edward Waters College has fired staff members with only a few days' notice.

At least three people have lost their jobs, the Times-Union has learned, but the actual number is unknown because the private Jacksonville college declined to return phone calls Wednesday.

President Jimmy Jenkins sent letters by certified mail to college employees informing them of their firing effective Saturday. The letters were dated Dec. 28 and arrived at the end of last week.

In the letter, Jenkins said the college expects fewer students to return for the spring semester because the college's accreditor voted last month to strip the college of its accreditation. Edward Waters vowed to appeal the decision, but meanwhile Jenkins said he had to fire employees "to avoid a possible financial crisis."

Like many small colleges, tuition makes up a large portion of the college's budget. So when enrollment drops, the college's finances suffer.

Jenkins said the college conducted a phone survey of its 1,300 students to see how many would return for the spring. The results, in addition to the usual drop in enrollment from fall to spring semesters, pointed to "a significantly reduced enrollment," Jenkins said.

Students return to classes Monday. A spokeswoman for the college said earlier this week enrollment figures would not be available until after two to three weeks. She did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment about the firings.

The news caught employees Shaka Bin-Yahya, 59, and Ellsworth Alexander, 73, by surprise. They both worked as residential supervisors in the dorms.

"Well, that's a nice New Year's present," Bin-Yahya said.

Both men said they were good workers and did not know why they were targeted for the pink slips. They visited the school's human resources department but were not given any details. …

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