Skip to Content

Columbia College reported financial losses while paying former president


Columbia College, which last month announced the elimination of more than 100 jobs -- has been in the red since 2019, according to financial records compiled by ProPublica.

Columbia College reported a $13.9 million loss for fiscal 2022. This is a trend the college has seen since 2019 where, excluding 2021, Columbia College reported net losses.

One large expense Columbia College has reported is paying the school's former president. Scott Dalrymple, who stepped down effective Dec. 1, 2020, was paid $643,098 in fiscal 2022 and $950,378 in 2021, for a total of nearly $1.6 million. At least $885,000 of that is part of a separation agreement between Dalrymple and the college, according to the IRS filings from 2021 and 2022. The fiscal year ends in June.

When Dalrymple was working with Columbia College, he was paid just over $600,000 annually. Columbia College's current president, David Russell, was paid $364,238 in 2022.

Dalrymple stepped down in 2020 citing family reasons. He was later hired as president of Paul Smith College in the summer of 2021. He resigned less than a year later because of disagreements about working from home, according to an Inside Higher Ed report.

Columbia College also lost money from rental properties and fundraising, reporting a total of about $187,000 in losses from the two.

Columbia College leadership, including its board of trustees, said in a written statement to ABC 17 News that the college was in a "solid financial situation."

"In regards to the college’s finances, we acknowledge that we have faced challenges in recent years and we have implemented several strategies to ensure a strong future for the college," the statement reads. "Last month, we implemented some very difficult but necessary changes to our personnel and our nationwide footprint. We believe these changes put us on the right track moving forward."

The statement says enrollment is increasing, the college is debt-free and strategic investments are being made wisely.

The statement declined to discuss Dalrymple, citing employee privacy laws. It also didn't get into details about the reasons for the large financial losses.

One thing Columbia College is doing to save money: job cuts. In October, Columbia College announced it was getting rid of 122 positions, including 65 that were held by employees and 57 unfilled positions. At the same time, Columbia College announced 17 of its locations would switch to fully online courses.

In the news release, Columbia College cited a decline in high school graduates and increased options for those seeking higher education as reasons for the changes. Columbia College reported a nationwide enrollment of 4,422 students this fall.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows enrollment has been declining for private nonprofit colleges and universities since 2020. The drop was 1.2% in spring 2022 and 1% in spring 2023 for private, nonprofit institutions such as Columbia College.

Last fall, Columbia College welcomed 298 new students, which was its largest enrollment class in the last five years. This year, the number of new freshmen enrolled is slightly down. However, a spokesman for Columbia College previously told ABC 17 News that the school's total enrollment this year is on par with last year's total.

The college was founded in 1851 as Christian Female College. Today, Columbia College operates 25 locations in 11 states, according to its website.

The college is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.

Article Topic Follows: ABC 17 News Investigates

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

Author Profile Photo

Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content