College budget plan results in 60 layoffs
By Turia Lahlou, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Approximately 60 Dartmouth staff members will be laid off in order to help the College reduce its compensation expenditures, the Board of Trustees announced on Monday. The move represents the latest consequence of the national economic crisis and the College's effort to address its resulting budget shortfall.
The layoffs are one component of the College's "Budget-Reconciliation Plan," which was crafted by College President James Wright and a team of administrators and released to the Dartmouth community on Monday. The plan was approved by the Board at its meeting in New York City this weekend.
"We jointly concluded that there would have to be some steps taken to bring expenses into line with the projected revenues," Board Chairman Ed Haldeman '70 said.
In the face of a worsening economic climate, layoffs became necessary, Wright said, adding that he and his team of administrators suggested layoffs only as a last resort.
The layoffs will save the College an additional $4.5 million, vice president for finance and administration Adam Keller said.
"The positions are selected for being eliminated, not the people," he said.
The layoffs will affect all major divisions of the College, though departments with a higher percentage of their budgets designated for employee compensation will likely face a larger number of layoffs, Wright said. No employees at any of the College's graduate schools are affected by the layoffs announced Monday.
"We are trying to handle this as well and as generously as we can because these are people who have always served us well," Wright said.
The College is offering laid-off employees a lump sum payment towards the full cost of maintaining health benefits for three months, career counseling and special consideration for future College employment as positions become available. These employees will also receive a separation package that includes two weeks pay for each consecutive year worked at Dartmouth, with a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of 52 weeks, according to a College press release.
The College will work to further reduce compensation expenses through a variety of measures, including a salary freeze, which will save the College $17 million, and a reduction of hours for 28 employees, which will save $500,000.
These steps are in addition to the early retirement plan announced in December, which freed up $1.6 million, and the hiring freeze announced in November, which opened up approximately 60 positions and saved $3.8 million, Keller said.
The budget-reconciliation plan involves a total of $35 million in budget cuts for the 2010 fiscal year, for a reduction of $47 million by the 2011 fiscal year. The new figure includes the original $40 million in budget cuts previously announced by the College in November, Keller said.
The reductions will range from 4 percent to 13 percent across departments, with administrative divisions taking the largest hits, he added.
Keller declined to specify how the budget cuts and layoffs break down by department.
"We recognized that the economy is deteriorating, that our endowments were being impacted and that we needed to get that much savings in order to have a balanced budget," Keller said.
The $47 million in cuts include projected savings from the facilities projects put on hold by the College, as well as from the salary freeze.
The current savings from temporarily eliminating raises will result in even greater savings in the future, Wright said, because raises are a percentage of the previous year's salary.
"We're confident that we've made a major effort that, unless things change dramatically, we will have accomplished a couple years' worth of bringing the budget into balance," Keller said.
The Board looked to make budget cuts that would not jeopardize the College's academic excellence and financial aid program, Haldeman said. Under the new plan, no tenure or tenure-track positions will be eliminated.
Currently, no faculty are affected, regardless of their tenure status, Keller said. One-third of faculty searches in the arts and science are, however, being postponed, he said.
"We wanted to retain the great momentum that has developed in terms of faculty recruitment and retention and not cause that to suffer," Haldeman said. "That was one of our high priorities. We've made so much progress in the last 10 years in that regard we did not want to take a step backwards. The same is true about financial aid."
Provost Barry Scherr added that the College hopes to protect "the overall learning experience of our students."
Scherr said that while there will be some reduction in service due to the budget cuts, the changes are largely "quantitative, rather than qualitative."
"Certain administrative services that were available by going to one person, you'll now have to go to somebody else," Scherr said. "So, we're not taking away -- I think as far as faculty and students are concerned, the kinds of support that they've had before are still going to be there, but in a number of cases there'll be less of it."
In other efforts to reduce budgetary spending, student printing subsidies will be halved from $40 per student to $20. The College is also reviewing several aspects of Dartmouth life, including BlitzMail, to determine ways to save additional funds, Keller said.
"We're sort of looking at those with two criteria in mind," he added. "The first is, what's the potential savings? And the second is, how hard or easy would it be to do that?"
The College also intends to generate $1 million in additional revenue by slightly increasing the number of transfer students and by increasing rents on some College-owned properties that are currently leased for less than market value, Keller said.
The College declined to release the location of these rental properties because "some of these are currently leased and/or leases are under discussion with tenants," Keller said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth.
The budget cuts take into account the currently challenging fundraising environment, Scherr said. Last month, Vice President for Development Carolyn Pelzel announced that the Development Office was having "mixed results" raising money for the Dartmouth College Fund, which provides the College with "current use dollars" that can be applied immediately for institutional spending.
The Dartmouth College Fund has a target of $40 million this fiscal year, Scherr said, adding that fundraising could be difficult because the College cannot expect to receive as many donations this year as it has in recent years.
"We were beginning to see a downturn in the economy when we set that number, and so we were a little conservative in the first place," Keller said.
Dartmouth Medical School is currently in the process of developing a budget plan, and administrators intend to announce those decisions in the spring, Keller said. Dartmouth's graduate schools, which are less dependent on the endowment for funding than the undergraduate institution, are more protected from fluctuations, Wright added.
"The Tuck School [of Business] and the Thayer School [of Engineering] don't anticipate any staff reductions," Keller said. "The medical school is in the middle of its process right now."
Keller said Dartmouth is well situated to move forward.
"I think of us, all of us, are involved in sort of managing our assets," Keller said. "Our assets aren't just the endowment -- they're the intellectual resources we have here, the faculty we have here, the students we have here and the staff we have here. I'm confident that we're taking an approach, which really does the best we can with those assets."
Scherr added that when the economic recovery begins, the College will be able "to build on our strengths in the academic programs, to really try to enhance the overall learning experience on campus, and to make us a stronger institution."