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Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts declares financial emergency

Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts declares financial emergency

Cornish College of the Arts, a 106-year-old private arts school in downtown Seattle, announced this week it’s undergoing a financial emergency, though the president of the school assured the community it’s not planning to close anytime soon.

The school’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Oct. 6 to approve a resolution to declare financial emergency and financial exigency, a move Cornish President Raymond Tymas-Jones called a “necessary next step toward our economic recovery and our transition to a new, more sustainable business model.”

“This is a tough time, but with the fortitude and commitment of an extraordinary faculty and staff, I really believe we can come up with a plan that will allow us to recoup and bounce back, so there is no discussion or planning of closing our doors,” Tymas-Jones, who took over as president about two years ago, said Tuesday morning. “Right now, we are taking the steps necessary. That’s why the declaration was made.”

After Cornish transitioned to a 100% remote learning model in March, its enrollment numbers were hit hard, suffering about a 17% decrease, Tymas-Jones said. Last fall, 591 full-time students were enrolled, compared to 479 students this fall, he said. Ninety-two students took a leave of absence, and Tymas-Jones said he wasn’t sure how many were planning to return in the spring.

“Cornish is a tuition-drive institution, so our operating revenue is basically generated through tuition,” he said. Last month, school leaders adjusted the annual budget by about 8% because the college didn’t hit its target of 520 students this fall, which created an “immediate strain,” Tymas-Jones said.

“We have had some employees take a cut in pay. We did apply cost of living increases for staff and faculty, but we have had to make other adjustments in our budget and absorb other reductions

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