Struggling to plug a longstanding budget deficit, Loyola University has laid off more than two dozen staffers, or about 6 percent of its full-time employees, and will temporarily curb its contributions to employees' retirement plans, school officials said Monday.

The moves will give the Uptown institution its first balanced budget in five years. 

“We are in accordance with what we said we would do, which is manage our budgets well and be fiscally responsible,” said Laura Frerichs, Loyola’s vice president of marketing and communications.

The latest budget “completely overcomes the $25 million deficit,” she said.

That deficit was born in 2013, when 200 fewer freshmen than expected actually enrolled, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in tuition and fees. Loyola has imposed layoffs, buyouts and other cost-cutting measures in each of the five years since — steps that have dented faculty morale. 

The school's former president of 14 years, the Rev. Kevin Wildes, worked with faculty on a 2015 plan he said would solve the problem. However, that plan was tossed last year in favor of one drawn up by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., working with Loyola employees and students.

Wildes retired this year and was replaced by former Tulane University Senior Vice President Tania Tetlow, who became Loyola’s first female and first lay president.

The latest finance plan, now dubbed Magis 2, remains on track. Paul Pastorek, a former state superintendent of education, has stepped in as the university’s chief operating officer.

The former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Maria Calzada, is serving as interim provost.

To balance Loyola’s $133 million operating budget, the university has eliminated 25 full-time staff positions and moved five other full-time staffers to part-time status, Pastorek and Calzada informed Loyola employees on Monday.

Although Pastorek had said in May that staff layoffs were imminent, the university had not decided then how many people would be let go.

Officials said Monday that they would help those who are laid off find new jobs. In addition, those who are laid off but also are enrolled as students, or who have children enrolled, in one of Loyola’s programs will continue to receive free tuition until they graduate.

Loyola will also temporarily suspend its match of employees’ 403(b) retirement plans. The university contributes 7 percent of an employee’s salary to those plans, a contribution it intends to withhold for 11 months before reinstating it in fiscal year 2020.

At the same time, officials pointed to 28 jobs Loyola has added this year, including faculty in the nursing, computer science, criminology and business programs. Staff have also been added in the school's enrollment management, public safety and finance departments.

Officials have also beefed up staff in Loyola’s Student Success Center, which provides coaching and mentoring to keep students enrolled. Early projections indicate that 775 freshmen will enroll this fall, and that the university will retain 86.5 percent of last year’s freshmen class.

To ensure finances stay on track in the future, Loyola’s board has passed new rules forbidding Tetlow from pulling money from the university’s endowment to balance its budget, a move often made by Wildes.

The board also wants Tetlow to give quarterly budget updates to show that Loyola is living within its means, and to immediately report to the board any budget overruns.

The university also hired a new leader last year for the office that predicts its enrollment, Frerichs said.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.