Columbia College Chicago lays off more than one-third of its professional staff

Petition calls on administration to stop layoffs, warning students’ education will suffer

CHICAGO – Professional staff at Columbia College Chicago submitted a 150-signature petition to President Kwang-Wu Kim, urging the administration to halt the scheduled layoffs of employees and asking it to explore alternative budget management strategies.

The Columbia College administration laid off 331 staff members between 2015 and 2018. Since 2018, the staff has been reduced by another 64%.

Annual staff numbers at Columbia are as follows:

  • 2015 – 762 staff
  • 2018 – 431 staff
  • 2024 – 275 staff

“It’s unbelievable what they’re doing. In just the past five years, we’ve lost approximately 36% of our staff, leading to less support for everyone, which significantly hurts students. There will be longer wait times for student services, reduced support and a strain on academic and emotional support systems for students,” United Staff of Columbia College (USofCC) Spokesperson Craig Sigele said. “Further staff reductions would only exacerbate the damage to our community and hinder our collective mission. It’s about more than numbers; it’s about maintaining the level of support and services our students deserve.”

The adverse effects of the layoffs on students include:

  • Longer wait times with Columbia Central,
  • Greatly reduced student Department of Equity and Inclusion office support,
  • Longer wait time to meet with academic advisors, who each serve a larger number of students than in the past,
  • Fewer contacts within academic departments to answer questions,
  • Difficulty meeting with college therapists.

USofCC represents 275 professional staff at Columbia College. Professional staff at the college provide critical services to the more than 6,000 students at Columbia, who spend around $31,000 a year in tuition to attend the college.

“Staff members are the backbone of Columbia College, being the first contact for admitted students and supporting them through to graduation. Our role is pivotal in maintaining the quality of education and the supportive community the college is known for,” Sigele said. “Additional cuts would only further damage our community and our collective efforts to support our mission. Reducing our staff would mean declining the support and services we can offer students, which isn’t fair to them. They deserve a college that’s fully equipped to support their success.”

USofCC is currently negotiating a new contract with the Columbia College Board of Trustees. The union’s current contract expires on Aug. 31.


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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