Layoffs, Lawsuits, Lingering Questions Follow Concordia University's Announced Closure

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Feb. 13, 2020 2:45 p.m.

Concordia University announced its closure Monday morning. In the days since more information has become available about how shuttering the 115-year-old school in the next few months will affect faculty, students and the surrounding community.

Faculty And Staff


Concordia submitted a notice to the state Wednesday, outlining the dates staff members will be laid off. All 1,518 employees at Concordia’s main campus in Portland, plus the Concordia University School of Law in Boise, Idaho, will be laid off.

Layoffs will start April 17,  a week in which spring term ends and the school is scheduled to close. The job cuts are planned to continue until Sept. 25.

Related: Portland's Concordia University To Close In Spring

The bulk of positions eliminated are faculty positions, and especially education faculty. According to data collected by the Oregon Department of Education, Concordia has the second-largest teacher preparation program by number of graduates in Oregon, including 188 in 2017-18.

More than half of the positions being eliminated are coming from Concordia's nursing and education faculty and staff.


With just a few months left before Concordia closes, some students are looking to graduation. Others will have to find another school to complete their academic programs.

According to Concordia’s website, the school will host transfer open houses with transfer options for students. But several Oregon schools have already opened their doors to Concordia students.

George Fox University has offered to waive application fees and provide a full credit transfer for some programs. For traditional undergraduate students, the university also offers a $5,000 renewable grant.

Warner Pacific University also offered to waive application fees and a provide $500 scholarship for Concordia students.

Corban University in Salem has a special application for Concordia students.

Late Wednesday, Western Oregon University also extended an offer to Concordia students of a minimum $1,000 award. In an email, spokeswoman Lisa Catto noted that WOU could be a good choice for Concordia's student-athletes "looking to stay in the same conference."


Related: Oregon Colleges Forced To Adjust As Student Priorities Expand

But transferring to another university is more complicated for some students, including a nursing student at Concordia who shared concerns with OPB. The student who chose to remain anonymous so that she didn't draw scrutiny during her final months at Concordia, says she was set to complete the school’s nursing program by August 2020.

“I have structured my life around the program timeline from beginning to end, with the expectation I would be working as a nurse by the end of September,” the student said. “Looking into alternative options, other programs would set me back at least two years.”

The student said she's invested $50,000 already in a Concordia nursing degree.

Some students may already be getting some help here. On the day Concordia's closure was announced, interim President Tom Ries said that he believed Concordia institutions in other parts of the country would step up to help students. KGW reported this week that Concordia-St. Paul in Minnesota is offering to help Portland students in the advanced nursing program complete their degrees.

At least one student has taken the legal route, filing a class lawsuit alleging misleading actions by a university aware of its financial troubles.

Some students took to Twitter to express sadness about the sudden news that their school was closing.

Others were frustrated and angry with Concordia, and the money they'd invested in an abbreviated college education.

Others have questioned how long the school had been considering a closure and why they continued to accept tuition.

Concerns have also been raised about a fundraising gala the university hosted four days before the school’s Board of Regents voted to close the school. The school raised more than $355,000 for its 3toPhD program, a collaborative program between Concordia and several other partners, including Portland Public Schools which operates the Faubion K-8 school on Concordia's campus.

Concordia said any donations from that gala or in the future will support current students, faculty and staff, as the university begins the process to close.

The building housing Faubion and the 3toPhD program will remain the property of Portland Public Schools.

As for Concordia's Boise-based law school, the school's interim dean told Boise State Public Radio that they're already in negotiations with a new university partner.