A private religious liberal arts institution faced the significant emotional task of needing to undergo significant change that would result in reorganization, outsourcing of key functions primarily in facilities maintenance and food service areas, voluntary early retirements, and layoffs/RIFs. The culture of the institution — small size, low staff turnover, family atmosphere, tight knit community, and close town-gown relations — posed additional challenges and risks. BMCG was asked to support the leadership team as it started to increase awareness of the need for change in its community.

Actions / Recommendations:

  • Identified the various risks the unique culture of the institution posed to the successful implementation of needed organizational change.
  • Developed a strategy that balanced the hard but necessary step of conducting layoffs and outsourcing while addressing the perceived conflict of values that the organizational change was fueling in the community
  • Developed a messaging platform and stakeholder engagement plan that balanced the needs of multiple stakeholder groups.
  • Provided contentious meeting training and support for the president and key senior leaders with a focus on authenticity, active listening and de-escalation techniques, support for those leaving, and strong, steady leadership to move forward.


While these were difficult choices for this close-knit community, the strategy demonstrated to the rest of the community that those directly impacted were treated with compassion and fairness, reducing broader anxiety and concern. The changes allowed the campus community to move forward and provided parents and incoming students confidence that the institution was financially sustainable.