Grad schools cut discretionary funds
By Neera Chatterjee, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, January 8, 2009
Dartmouth's three professional schools will attempt to limit the effect of the economic downturn on students by focusing on reducing discretionary spending, rather than cutting major programs, the schools' deans said. The College's hiring freeze will apply to the schools, but many of their budget decisions will be made independently, according to Adam Keller, executive vice president for finance and administration.
The graduate schools' budget cuts are in addition to the $40-million in cuts already announced by the College.
The endowments of the graduate schools and the College are managed together as a "combined asset," Keller said. As such, the decline in the graduate schools' endowment has been equivalent to that of the College, according to Keller.
The Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering and Dartmouth Medical School have all instituted budget reviews.
Tuck aims to limit discretionary expenditures such as travel, according to Steve Lubrano Tu'87, assistant dean of administration and chief operations officer at Tuck.
"I asked everyone for reductions, but to maintain academic standards in everything you do," Lubrano said. "Secondly, do your best to cut budgets so we don't have to go to layoffs because there's the understanding that every dollar we don't spend helps in our efforts to ensure that all of our colleagues are employed."
Tuck will also reallocate funding, Lubrano said. For example, Tuck will apportion funds normally used for applicant outreach to helping students look for jobs, Lubrano said, because MBA programs generally remain popular during economic downturns.
"That's our strategy -- taking from one area to give to another," he said.
Thayer has also targeted discretionary spending for cuts, Thayer Dean Joe Helble said. DMS is similarly in the latter stages of its budget revision for 2009 and is starting to look at the 2010 fiscal year, according to DMS Dean William Green.
While the College-wide hiring freeze applies to the graduate schools, the schools can continue with faculty recruitment as long as they have enough money in their individual budgets, Keller said.
"[DMS] is still moving forward with our department chair searches that started in 2008," Green said. DMS is reducing its budget by five percent, and will likely scale back future hiring, although it is not currently firing existing employees, Green added.
Tuck is taking a similar approach, Dean Paul Danos said, and does not plan to fire existing faculty, but will instead curtail the hiring of new staff.
Although Thayer may slow hiring, Helble said Thayer enjoys a "relatively fortunate position" due to its strong graduate enrollment, which he said provides a steady income and research portfolio, which allows faculty members to continue to secure grants.
"I do not anticipate making serious changes," he said. "We are continuing to search for faculty and implement new programs and courses."
Thayer is less dependent on the College's endowment than the other graduate schools, Helble said.
"We have a broad range of funding," he said, citing sources such as the National Science Center, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, the Commerce Department and private sector funding.
Congress has allocated consistent amounts of funding for research every year, Helble said. Any small decrease in funding from one source will likely not affect Thayer's funding overall, Helble explained, because the school has so many funding sources,
While DMS also receives federal funding, the school has experienced an added challenge because it relies on the National Institute of Health, according to Green. Prior to the economic downturn, the NIH budget had been "flat," beginning around 2003 or 2004, Green said.
"[Now] it's even worse than flat because figuring in inflation, [all medical schools] are approaching being down 15 percent," he said. DMS may try to take advantage of different types of NIH grants to make up for some lost funds, he added.
All three deans said they believe their schools can avoid significant increases in tuition costs.
"We don't want to solve this problem on the backs of our students," Green said.
Budget cuts will not affect current building renovations at DMS, but future projects will be delayed, according to Green. Construction projects at Tuck and Thayer were completed with private donations prior to the budget crisis, according to the deans.
Turia Lahlou contributed to the reporting of this article.