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Duke TIP to lay off 75 staff members, end Academic Talent Search permanently

Duke has made plans to cut 75 staff positions in the Duke University Talent Identification Program starting Jan. 6.

The program filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification report with the state Oct. 8, announcing that they would be permanently laying off the staff members effective Jan 6. The reports are required for mass layoffs.

According to the program’s website, Duke TIP usually employs 86 people year-round, with another 1,200 seasonal hires as part of the summer studies program. 

"This is, unfortunately, a direct result of COVID-19, which forced the cancellation of the TIP residential summer session on the Duke campus and other colleges in 2020 and likely again in 2021 and thus created an unsustainable financial position for the program," Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, told ABC11, a local TV news station.

Schoenfeld also told the Triangle Business Journal that TIP employees who were laid off would receive “severance benefits, outplacement assistance and the opportunity to apply for other positions at Duke.”

Duke TIP is a nonprofit organization that identifies “gifted students” and provides standardized testing assessments and rigorous online educational programs. The program has served more than three million students in grades four through 12 since its founding 40 years ago, with much of that through its Academic Talent Search, which TIP used to identify gifted students through college entrance exams. 

Now, that talent search is no more. While most programming is paused through spring 2021, according to a message on the TIP website from Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Francis, the Academic Talent Search will end permanently and be replaced by “new ways to identify students and facilitate their access to these enrichment programs” according to an FAQ on the TIP website. 

Other activities will resume next summer “with a new and exciting slate of online courses on a wide range of topics,” according to Francis. 

Francis wrote that the University intends to create a new unit in the Office of Academic Affairs “to better align the existing important and diverse precollege activities with Duke’s current educational priorities and operational practices.” She added that Duke TIP will be a “principal focus” of the initiative.

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