American University, caught in a severe financial squeeze because of an unexpected drop in enrollment, has eliminated 50 of its 1,000 nonteaching staff positions, university officials said yesterday.

AU public information director Jody Goulden said 11 staff members were told yesterday that they will be dismissed Oct. 31. The other jobs are being cut, she said, through voluntary retirements and resignations and by abolishing vacant positions.

"There's considerable reshuffling of other people," Goulden said, "and a few jobs are being shared."

The jobs eliminated include counsellors, secretaries, and blue-collar positions. No full-time faculty members, all of whom have either tenure or at least one-year contracts, are affected.

The staff cutbacks are the latest in a series of economy moves forced on the university by a five percent decrease in fall enrollment, which is cutting planned tuition revenue by about $2 million in a $65 million budget. The university also has reduced the number of part-time faculty, turned off air conditioners in student dorms from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, removed paper towels from dorm lounges, and cut the number of students employed as dorm security guards and mail sorters.

Yesterday planning director Donald Triezenberg repeated a pledge by senior AU officials that there would be "no retreat" from the university's higher admissions standards, which he said had caused some of the enrollment loss. Earlier, officials said other factors probably responsible for the decline were the slowdown in the national economy and cuts in federal student aid, which are also causing problems for other relatively high-tuition private universities.