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Saint Louis University will lay off 120 employees; Biondi returns as part-time fundraiser

Trish | Flickr

Saint Louis University announced Friday it will cut 120 employees — or 4 percent of its workforce — because of a funding crisis.

University President Fred Pestello detailed the layoffs, which were expected for several weeks, in separate emails to staff and students.

The layoffs will be “painful for our community, and the next several weeks will be a period of adjustment,” Pestello told students. To staff members, he said: “I understand that receiving this message is not a welcome start to the weekend, but I hope this weekend provides opportunities to reflect in your own way on the changes before us.”

Teaching positions are spared for now, Pestello said, but academic programs are still being evaluated.

“A difficult and unavoidable part of changing an organization of our size is a reduction in the number of people who are employed here,” Pestello wrote.

SLU’s enrollment is the lowest it’s been for several years. Plus, the Catholic school is receiving fewer federal grants, private giving has dropped since 2012 and operating expenses have risen in recent years. In addition to the layoffs, 130 currently vacant positions will not be filled, SLU said.

Fundraising will be key for SLU, which also said this week it is bringing back former president Rev. Lawrence Biondi on a part-time unpaid basis. He stepped down in 2013 amid calls for his resignation by students and faculty.

Biondi will split time between fundraising trips for the university and his present role for the Catholic Church in Chicago, where he went after he retired.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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