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Local colleges seek creative ways to survive sour economy

By Maggie Blackwell
mblackwell@salisburypost.com
Local colleges have been creative to avoid eliminating large numbers of jobs during the recession.
Catawba, Livingstone and Pfeiffer colleges have all approached the sour economy in different ways.
Tonia Black-Gold, chief communications officer at Catawba, said the school has cut three faculty and four staff positions.
In five of those, the college did not fill positions when someone retired or left for another job.
The remaining two positions were eliminated in an effort to control costs. The Catawba Web site says there are no open positions available.
Regarding the near-term future, the college is “hopefully optimistic,” Black-Gold said. “The numbers for fall are looking really good.”
Black-Gold said a higher-than-normal number of students have indicated an intent to live on campus, as well.
State Alexander serves as Livingstone College’s executive assistant to the president and director of public relations. He said the school hasn’t had to cut staff.
“Like most organizations, we have to be very frugal about all our resources óhuman and others,” he said. “We are doing all we can to support the educational needs of our students, with a keen eye on the bottom line, being sure our senior administrators are being careful in hiring and other areas like travel.
“We are very determined to remain frugal.”
Livingstone’s Web site lists 28 open positions. Alexander said any academic positions would be filled first, and others would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Dr. Charles Ambrose, president of Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, said his school tried to anticipate a change in the economic climate a year ago and reacted as quickly as possible.
“Many thought we were getting a little ahead of ourselves,” Ambrose said. But administrators eliminated positions that were vacant or deemed non-essential. A total of nine positions were cut, reflecting a mixture of attrition and reduction-in-force.
The school also suspended contributions to the employee retirement system, Ambrose said. But a recent upsurge in giving, increased enrollment and new programs all give him reason to be confident.
“All small private colleges are on the edge,” Ambrose said. “It just depends on how close to the edge you are.”
He said in this economic climate, Pfeiffer has an advantage by being one of the last few colleges still available for under $30,000 a year.
The Pfeiffer Web site lists four open positions as well as housekeeping and food service jobs available with a contract service.

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