Bethel is having an open house for their new Paris campus on March 5 from 11 am until 2 pm.<quoted text>
It's understandable to be optimistic, I am too about Bethel, but I'm also not naive. It isn't rumor about Bethel's precarious financial state, and it isn't as 'stable' as you make it sound.
From very reliable sources that I have, Bethel University owes nearly $10 million dollars to Venture Construction for the building of the Vera Low and Gym and also Paris facility. On top of that, Bethel likely owes an additional million or so on the Wildcat football stadium -- debts that are eating up huge portions of their budget, not to mention the added costs of paying for the utilities which I fear they may not have factored into their long term budget outlook.
To give you an idea of how tight things are there:
- They've laid off over a dozen staff members so far, maybe more, and likely more to come.
- They've cut out all retirement contributions to staff and faculty members.
- They've cut all complimentary staff meals.
- Employees no longer have free access to the fitness center -- they too must now have a paying membership there for every family member that goes and get a background check from what I was told (which they must pay for out of pocket, too).
- They've consolidated majority of their rental storage facilities in order to save a couple thousand dollars a month.
- They've got several rental trailers on campus that I hear they're looking to offload to save more money.
- They also closed the fitness center in town. By closing it down, they have one less building to rent and utilities to pay for.
- I also was told that they cannot continue to pay for the brand new weight equipment they bought for the on-campus fitness center, so they're bringing all the equipment from the one in town to the new one.
- Rumor has it that they're fixing to sell that big two-story house they have by the Middle School, I think it's the old Success office.
Now these are just a few things to mention. Obviously, I can understand a little belt tightening to cut out wasteful spending, which they have been doing for many years, but with the amounts of cuts they're making and the number of payments they're offloading, they cannot possibly be considered 'financially stable'.
HOWEVER, Bethel hasn't gotten itself in deep enough that they can't dig out. They're very much on the way to getting things squared away...however, they've got to get past one major hurdle this week. Their financial aid program and some other things are being audited this week if I recall correctly by the federal government. If they can get by that unscathed, then I think Bethel with be OK in the long run.
Seen ad's in the Paris paper for new employees at that campus, so guess they are doing okay.
Personally I believe they (Bethel) has bigger plans for the Paris campus than just this one 3-story building.
Anyone heard their plans (next 5 years) for the Paris campus?