Lon Morris College was founded in 1854
School officials say "financial and liquidity" difficulties are behind the furloughs
"About three months we haven't gotten paid ... we do this because we love it," says a football coach
Nearly all of the staff at the oldest two-year college in Texas was furloughed Wednesday morning because of “financial and liquidity difficulties,” according to a letter sent by the college to its staff and obtained by CNN.
Lon Morris College, a faith-based private school in Jacksonville, Texas, with an enrollment of slightly more than 1,000 students, notified its employees that – with the exception of a core group of 11 – all staff would be furloughed indefinitely. About 100 employees are on the school’s payroll, according to local news affiliates.
“Given insufficient cash flow, the college cannot continue to employ personnel and further cannot allow employees to continue to work even on a ‘volunteer’ or unpaid basis,” a letter sent to the Lon Morris staff by Director of Human Resources Carolyn Nanni said.
Before the announcement Wednesday, the staff had not been paid for three payroll periods, according to staff members
“For this to happen…it’s really hurtful. About three months we haven’t gotten paid,” Lon Morris defensive line football coach Eric Morris told CNN in a phone interview.
“As the coaching staff, we do this because we love it. We do it for the kids. We did it for no money. The kids are going to lose out more than anything,” he added.
The letter to the staff also said health care benefits for employees “will be canceled in the near term due to non-payment of premiums.” As for those employees who are living on campus, they have “10 days to vacate,” the letter added.
The president of Lon Morris, Miles McCall has submitted his formal resignation via e-mail, effective Thursday, according to local affiliate KLTV.
“It’s simply a furlough, no one has been terminated,” college spokesman Dave Hubbard said in an interview with KLTV. “It’s simply a down time for the re-organization efforts to be done so we can be fruitful and begin to go forward in a positive manner next fall.”
For now, summer sessions have been canceled, but there is a possibility courses may be offered online instead, Hubbard added.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” Morris, who has coached at the college for a year, said. “You just have to keep moving forward.”
“Those of us that are here now are those that really believe in the college,” employee David Gehrels told KLTV. “We’ve been able to work with students one-on-one and really be a positive influence in their lives, and to us that’s worth the risk.”
Lon Morris, located about 30 miles south of Tyler, Texas, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, according to the school’s website.
Founded in 1854, the school celebrated its 100 commencement in 2011, the website said.
“We take pride in our small student-to-teacher ratio, our caring staff, and our supportive faculty,” the website added.