Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Falling enrollment for online classes leads Everest to lay off 105 in Colorado Springs

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: February 18, 2014

Everest University has laid off 105 of the 433 employees at its Colorado Springs call center as part of nationwide cutback by the for-profit college's parent company, Corinthian Colleges Inc. - a response to slowing enrollment in online classes.

The layoffs, which were completed Feb. 4, affected employees in the local center's admissions and student finance divisions who work with prospective students or those who have recently enrolled, said Kent Jenkins, vice president of public affairs communications for Corinthian in Washington, D.C.

The Colorado Springs center handles a variety of tasks that also include academic, student and career services. Those areas were not hit by the cutback, he said.

"After several years of rapid expansion, the online education sector has entered a phase of consolidation and modest student enrollment growth. This trend affects Everest online as well as other educational organizations," Jenkins said in an email sent Tuesday.

"While we regret the impact this has on some of our employees, it is important to note that none of the Everest College campuses in Colorado has been affected in any way. The students and faculty at those campuses have seen no changes," the statement said.

Jenkins' statement notes that the Colorado Springs center is "currently increasing the number of employees in the academic services department," but he didn't elaborate on how many people are being added that might offset the layoffs earlier this month.

Corinthian told KPHO-TV in Phoenix Feb. 4 that the company laid off 35 percent of the admissions and student finance departments at call centers in the Springs, Tempe, Ariz., and Tampa, Fla., but did not specify how many employees at each location lost their jobs.

Corinthian Colleges reported declining revenue and profits the day after the layoffs, in part due to $1.1 million in severance expenses during the quarter ended Dec. 31. Corinthian CEO Jack Massimino said in a Feb. 5 news release that the company "further reduced our expense structure to align with our current and anticipated student population" and added that Corinthian was "in the process of optimizing our admissions expenditures to reflect current online student population trends."

The company said its student population at year's end was down 11.1 percent, or nearly 10,000 students, from a year earlier to 77,584, and new student enrollments during the quarter ended Dec. 31 were down 14.4 percent, or about 3,300, from a year earlier to 19,760.

Everest laid off 25 people in 2012 when it installed new information systems that reduced the need for administrative staff. The company recalled 10 of the laid-off employees and hired 80 more five months later in placement, advising, student finance and admissions. Everest opened the call center in 2010 with plans to employ up to 600 within four years, selecting the Springs over several other locations.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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