Despite sale, 23 posts cut at city college

NASHUA – Just weeks after the sale to the for-profit ITT Tech was approved, Daniel Webster College laid off 23 employees Wednesday, with more expected to come, according to an employee who lost a job.

The employees were given a four-week severance package, along with payment for accrued vacation days, and were informed that Wednesday was their final day of employment.

“It has become necessary to reorganize and implement a reduction-in-force,” President Robert Myers wrote in a letter to the employees. “Due to that reorganization, your employment is being terminated effective July 29, 2009.”

Thursday morning, a secretary in Myers’ office said no one from the college was authorized to comment on the layoffs and gave a phone number to the ITT Tech headquarters in Carmel, Ind.

Several calls placed this week to the media relations department at ITT were not returned.

According to the employee, who wished to remain anonymous, it is expected that Wednesday’s round of layoffs was a first wave. It is expected that a total of about 60 employees will be laid off, the employee said.

“It’s kind of a kick in the pants to be let go, especially with the economy the way it is today,” the employee said.

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News of the proposed sale, which was approved this summer, came at the end of April. The private college had $23 million in debt, which ITT’s purchase was supposed to erase.

The college’s finances were in such dire straits that if no buyerwas found, it likely would have been forced to close,

according according to court records.

In a meeting with employees in April, the day news of the sale was announced, Myers said ITT would bring with it several “revolutionary ideas,” such as performance bonuses for staff, enhanced benefit packages and stock options.

“We didn’t see a dime,” the employee said.

There was no mention at the time about the possibility of layoffs. In fact, Myers said at the time that the influx of cash from ITT would result in more people being hired and filling positions that were kept vacant.

Among the employees laid off Wednesday were director of advancement, director of academic resources, director of media and community relations, head of public services and the student services coordinator.

The need to lay off employees calls into question some of the other initiatives that college officials touted when news of the sale was announced.

In addition to being able to hire more employees, Myers had said the sale would also mean the ability to restore programs and house more students on campus.

Myers spoke about broadening the scope of the college, expanding it to a university and opening satellite campuses in New England and in other parts of the country.

Myers also stressed at the time of the sale that the college would remain autonomous and that faculty would retain control of academic programs.

The college’s Web site has been noticeably lacking in information since the sale went through. Nearly every link brings users to an “under construction” message.