JACKSONVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Just weeks after the semester wrapped for an East Texas junior college, faculty and staff learned via email they had been laid off.
Lon Morris College, a private junior college based in Jacksonville, laid off all but a ‘minimal core group’ of eleven employees Wednesday morning.
The school, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, has struggled financially of late, and has hired a consulting group to help restructure. The school has missed payroll three times recently, according to the email sent to all employees.
The email stated the employees had been terminated, and ordered all employees to turn in any and all property belonging to the school. The email also told employees vacation time had been extinguished and health insurance plans would be cancelled due to lack of premium payments.
The school later called the moves ‘furloughs’ but failed to say when and if how many employees would be rehired.
The email states the consulting group will make an assessment on how to handle the college’s financial situation by the third week of June, and said Lon Morris College planned to be open in time for fall classes ‘in the absence of information to the contrary.’
Amid news of the move, college president Miles McCall submitted his resignation to the Lon Morris board of trustees, saying the restructuring would be easier if he were to step down.
The email does not address what will happen to current students of the 2-year school. CBSDFW reached out to Dallas’ Southern Methodist University and Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University to see if the similarly-aligned Methodist colleges would be making provisions for students of Lon Morris College. Both schools have yet to respond.
All three schools are listed as being under the umbrella of The United Methodist Church of North Texas. The church also has affiliated colleges in Austin, Georgetown, Abilene and Marshall.
Many Lon Morris alumni in North Texas were surprised by the news. Former student Elliott Sullivan of Rockwall called the news shocking. “I had no idea the school was even doing poorly financially.” Sullivan added many alumni are closely connected through social networking, but none had previously addressed the school’s troubles.
According to the school website, Lon Morris College was founded in 1854. It is currently the oldest junior college in Texas, and lists itself as the oldest chartered two-year college west of the Mississippi River.