Princeton Theological Seminary, the largest seminary associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the second-oldest seminary in the United States, laid off 21 employees this week.
Asked whether the layoffs were due to economic reasons, Barbara Chaapel, the school’s director of communications, cited the school’s strategic plan, which was developed in 2012.
“The Seminary adopted a new strategic plan last year and it is reallocating both human and other resources in order to implement the plan,” Chaapel wrote in an email. “While the number of employees was reduced this week, we expect to fill new positions that are necessary to help achieve our vision for our future.”
The strategic plan calls for the school to “right-‐size the employee base in line with the mission of the seminary, using activity-‐based analysis, taking seasonal demands into account, and re-‐engineering programs, departments and workforce where necessary.”
The school, enrolls more than 500 students. Prior to the layoffs, the school had 42 faculty members, 12 adjunct faculty and about 160 other full and part-time staff and administrative positions, according to the seminary website.
Sources at the school said most of the layoffs were in the areas of information technology, library staff, and continuing education. Some of the employees who lost their jobs were reportedly escorted off campus after being told their positions no longer existed.
The seminary, which has the second largest theological library collection in the world, recently rebuilt the Speer Library on Mercer Street and tore down and rebuilt new student housing facilities behind MarketFair in West Windsor.
According to financial statements posted online, the school’s net assets dropped by more than $50 million between the fiscal year ending in June of 2011 and 2012. The school’s net assets were valued at $951,985,683 at the end of fiscal year 2011, and were $894,733,608 at the end of fiscal year 2012.
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the school’s bond rating from Aaa to Aa1 in May of last year because of the school’s outstanding debt and line of credit, which combined totaled $167..8 million at the time, up four times the amount in fiscal year 2009, according to Moody’s. The capital campaign to fund the new library was not able to fully fund the library construction as of late 2011. In December of 2011, the seminary established a $60 million bank line of credit, against which the school had drawn $18.7 million as of May of 2012, according to Moody’s.
The library project was developed and carried out under former seminar president Iain Torrance. M. Craig Barnes was installed as the school’s seventh president last month.