In March of 2020, COVID-19 swept across the ABAC campuses. Students and staff were forced to adapt to an all-online schedule, and heavy precautions were put into place to help ensure the safety of staff and students.
With these challenges, came fiscal hardships for ABAC campuses as well. These challenges that campuses faced were only heightened after student refunds, and once new enrollment factors were introduced.
“ABAC’s leadership team has worked with the University System Office since June to resolve these complex issues,” said President Bridges of ABAC in a memo to faculty and staff in October 2020. President Bridges goes on to state that true freshman enrollment is steadily decreasing.
There is also a new trend in universities across Georgia, an increase in graduating high school students that have acquired college credits through dual-enrollment. This is cause for a reevaluation of the need of certain gateway courses, and may be yet another cause for a financial loss.
While some ABAC campuses are flourishing with higher enrollment rates, not all campuses have had the same luck. In the same letter from President Bridges, he explains that difficulties caused by COVID-19 have left a “5+ million hole” in ABAC’s budget. Due to this, ABAC’s leadership team has had a lot to consider since March of last year.
Bridges announced a list of changes that began on December 31, 2020, beginning with increasing enrollment. This will be difficult, as face-to-face recruiting is near to impossible due to the pandemic.
The second change taken into consideration, was consolidating corresponding staff units and having one person specialize in each. The consensus was this change would create a more effective communication process between staff.
The most drastic change being made, is the closure of three ABAC campuses: Blakely, Donalsonville, and Moultrie. These campuses will still offer dual-enrollment to high school students.
However, all in-person classes will need to be attended at either the Bainbridge campus or Tifton campus, or attended online through Ecore. In the memo, President Bridges also states, “ABAC’s allocation of instructional resources must change so that the College can continue to provide quality education for the greatest number of students.”