Permanent Layoffs Coming, Harding Confirms

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Harding University confirmed Monday that it will be permanently laying off between 15 and 20 employees.

“Who is affected is currently being determined and notifications will be made by May 14,” Jana Rucker, vice president for university communications and enrollment, said in an email to Arkansas Business. “These are permanent reductions based on a combination of COVID impacts and revenue reductions due to decreased enrollment and longer term enrollment trends in higher education.”

Harding, at Searcy, remains the largest private university in Arkansas, but its fall 2019 enrollment of 4,793 was a 5% decrease from 2018 and down more than 30% from its peak above 7,000 in 2011. 

“The outlook for fall 2020 is still positive as we are working to confirm student commitments for the incoming freshman class,” Rucker’s email said. “While a reopening decision has not yet been made, Harding has assembled a task force on reopening and we are focused on compliance with federal, state and local guidance as well as recommendations from medical experts to determine what can be done to safely reopen for fall.”

The members of that task force will be announced today, she said.