More EDMC layoffs reported

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City Paper has received word of more layoffs taking place at Pittsburgh-based for-profit educator Education Management Corporation. Company officials have kept mum, however, and it is unclear at this time if any of the lost jobs occurred in Pittsburgh.

We began receiving emails last week about layoffs of as many of 100 employees at the brick-and-mortar Art Institutes EDMC operates around the country. The news comes just two months after EDMC laid off several hundred employees in its online division at the same time it was investing company revenues in a stock buyback program.

According to sources inside the company, who asked not to be named out of fear for their jobs, the layoffs began last Thursday. EDMC, the second largest for-profit educator in the country, owns several schools including the Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College, South University and Western State University.

Over the weekend CP received an email dated March 8 purportedly sent from Todd Cunningham, the president of the Art Institute of Washington -- which is located in the D.C. suburb of Arlington, Va. -- to AI employees.

"As you may have heard, there have been some organizational changes at our school," Cunningham writes. "The Reduction Program is an effort to maintain close alignment with staffing in our schools and market demand. We have an obligation to our students to provide the highest quality education in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible."

The "reduction program," the message continues, is being "driven in part by the demand for certain programs at our schools and we are realigning faculty to meet those demands." Among the areas cut, the email says, were positions in graphic design and general education.

Although the number of employees affected was not laid out in the email, laid-off employees "were advised they will no longer have roles with us after April 5, 2012."

The email concluded:

"We extend our sincere best wishes to all those affected, and we thank them for their contributions which have benefited our students over the long term; and we will do what we can to help our displaced colleagues during this difficult time. We remain a vibrant organization. It is important that we continue to strive to be as healthy, efficient and streamlined as possible so that we can continue to invest in and support growth where we see the greatest need and demand."

Several other campuses have also apparently been affected. At the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, for one, an online petition is being circulated regarding the layoffs of some 15 instructors last week. According to the petition, the instructors taught illustration, graphic design, web design, fashion, psychology and in the culinary programs.

"This sweep of layoffs affected the lives of FIFTEEN instructors at our school from all majors and the general education field," the petitioners write. "This kind of mindless corporate layoff practice needs to be addressed with awareness and guidance."

There has been no formal company release about the reported layoffs. We've requested a comment from EDMC, and will provide updates if they become available.

The company has undergone some financial hardships lately due to lower revenues and declining enrollment last quarter. Ever since it announced its quarterly results in early February, the company's stock has fallen sharply. The stock hit almost $30 on Jan. 3, but opened this morning at less than $17 per share.

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