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Thursday, August 23, 2012

EDMC layoffs hit Art Institutes nationwide

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 1:08 PM

On the same two days that Education Management Corp. began laying off more than 800 employees — many at Art Institutes across the country — it posted more than 300 job openings at Art Institutes across the country. And as EDMC's battered workforce takes another hit, some supporters are suggesting it may be time to go public with their criticisms of the company.

Sources inside the company began notifying City Paper on Wednesday about the layoffs at Art Institutes in Pittsburgh and across the country including Washington D.C., Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and California and the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. However, sources say the cuts happened at virtually every AI across the country.

Company officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday, but WPXI reported this morning that 60 employees — 20 at the Art Institute and 40 at EDMC’s corporate headquarters — were laid off, according to public officials. About 15 of those employees will be eligible to reapply for other positions.

And there are lots of options to choose from: EDMC’s corporate site currently lists more than 300 jobs available, mostly at Art Institutes.

A source inside EDMC told CP that layoffs nationwide would total about 800. This comes just a month after EDMC told all employees that wages would be frozen to avoid future layoffs. The company has sacked hundreds of employees since January as it contends with sagging enrollment and a rapidly falling stock price ($3.54 as of this writing).

City Paper obtained an email sent to AI campuses, similar to one sent around in March. The email describes the layoffs as a “reduction program ... to maintain close alignment with staffing in our schools and market demand.”

“The Reduction Program is being driven in part by the demand for certain programs at our schools and we are realigning staff and faculty to meet those demands,” the email states. “The Art Institutes is ensuring schools conform to a structure that is based on the size of our schools, and directing our resources as effectively and efficiently as possible throughout the organization.”

According to the email, the reductions occurred in academic affairs, accounting/finance, admissions and IT. Those departments, according to the email, “have employees who were advised they will no longer have roles with us after September 25, 2012.”

Despite the layoffs though, the email contends that “we remain a vibrant organization. It is important that we continue to strive to be as healthy, efficient and streamlined as possible so that we can continue to invest in and support growth where we see the greatest need and demand.”

The “academic service” positions eliminated, according to several sources, range from department directors to instructors to support staff like library workers. Some of the current job openings listed on EDMC’s website include department directors and program coordinators in several disciplines from math to design. Other available positions range from storeroom clerk and residence life director to librarian and finance director.

The listings cover several schools in areas including Houston, Seattle, Virginia Beach, San Francisco, Tampa and Minneapolis. For many schools this is not the first round of layoffs this year. CP previously reported layoffs in D.C. and in Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale campus was reportedly hit with more than 40 layoffs this time after 15 in March.

And like last time, supporters of the school started a petition to show their displeasure with the company’s decision. They once again that the for-profit educator is a public company whose primary owners are large venture capital firms with Goldman Sachs chief among them.

This time, however, the online petition may just be the beginning.

“We are revitalizing this campaign to spread awareness. Except this time we are going to have non-violent protests, put out fliers and let the knowledge spread further than just the internet and word-of-mouth,” wrote the petition’s founder and Fort Lauderdale-area artist and AI student Vaughn Reynolds. “Today 21 instructors and a total of 45 employees were given the layoff notice at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale campus! They fired all but one Department Chair and some Senior Faculty members!”

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