President addresses Community Schools Program closure

By Ruth Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

Columbia College President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim delivers a commencement address at the Arie Crown Theater on Sunday, May 14, 2023. (Addison Annis)

Columbia President and CEO Kwang Wu Kim officially announced the elimination of the Columbia College Chicago Community Schools Program in a June 1 email, writing that the closure comes “after a careful assessment of the declining student participation and the challenges of administering the program as required by the grant.”

Details: Though Columbia CS is “mostly grant-funded,” he said Columbia will save money through its termination.

He announced a future collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, saying that two cohorts of CPS students will take early college credit courses in the upcoming fall semester.  

The Chronicle broke the news about the program’s closure earlier in the day on social media. 

By the numbers: Kim said the college is laying off six union and five non-union staff members and will eliminate another 13 positions that are currently unfilled. That number is higher than previously reported

The 82 people assigned to the CS program — not all who are working for the program one time — also will lose those jobs. 

All 65 teaching artists and 17 program coordinators and assistants are also in USofCC’s bargaining unit,” said Craig Sigele, president of the United Staff of Columbia College, the union that represents staff employees. “Not all of these people are active all the time. They are part-time and assignments depend on demand from CPS schools. I don’t know the daily workings of the program, but we do consider them union members.”

That number is also higher than previously reported.

Lambrini Lukidis, the school’s associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said the termination of the CS employees will “not be impacting day-to-day college operations.” 

She said the 11 staff are the only layoffs that affect Columbia campus operations.

The college is trying to close a $20.5 million budget deficit by 2026.