Faculty votes to see budget report
By Amelia Acosta, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Dartmouth faculty members overwhelmingly passed a resolution proposed by religion professor Ronald Green which would require the College’s administration to publicize an accounting report of the measures taken since 2009 to close the College’s $100-million budget gap at Monday’s Faculty of the Arts and Sciences meeting, Green said in an interview with The Dartmouth. The resolution calls for the report’s release prior to the next faculty meeting on May 23, he said.
The resolution requests that the administration releases an accounting report with “information about the number of staff and other personnel reductions needed to reduce the budget gap,” and asks for clarifications on how the arts and sciences will be affected by the “next round of major decisions,” according to the faculty resolution.
“We went through an extensive information process about the need for these cuts two years ago,” Green said. “Since then, we have not had a corresponding disclosure of the success in addressing them.”
The resolution stipulates that the administration must present the accounting report “in advance of and for discussion to the May 23rd meeting,” according to Green.
“I want to think that the delay comes from the fact that it’s a very complicated process, but you can’t have a positive report of progress without details,” he said. “I realize that this deadline puts the administration under pressure but this goes back to my first request in February. We probably can’t see everything that I asked for, but the resolution is saying the faculty deserve a full accounting.”
Green first requested the report at the Feb. 28 faculty meeting, he said.
“At that meeting, I requested a detailed, black and white accounting of our progress to date, and I was promised that by [College President Jim Yong Kim],” Green said. “Weeks went by after I requested that and I never got it.”
Kim has articulated the severity of the budget crisis since the outset, according to Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College.
“His public presentation in December 2009 on the scope of the problem was praised by many,” Anderson said in a statement to The Dartmouth. “As we are now on the verge of closing the projected gap, we welcome the opportunity to explain where we are to the broader community, just as we explained it to the [Board of Trustees] in April.”
Kim did not provide answers to specific budget questions posed by faculty, but “simply promised” that the information would be released in time for the May 23 meeting, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Mastanduno said at the meeting.
The faculty members who have been negatively impacted by the budget cuts “deserve to know” the extent to which their efforts have assisted in balancing the College’s budget, Green said. The released report will be an important indicator that the administration understands the importance of transparency, he said.
“People have lost their jobs and students have been called upon to make sacrifices,” Green said. “Everyone who contributed to this sacrifice deserves accurate reporting of what it all means.”
Faculty members and administrators who attended the meeting responded positively to the resolution, according to Mastanduno.
“Faculty members feel that they don’t have sufficient information on important issues that have to do with the way the College is governed,” Mastanduno said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “Its important for them to share ownership of decisions that are made [by the administration], so this resolution was a perfectly appropriate request. It was my sense that [Kim] and [Provost Carol Folt] felt the same way.”
Green and Kim answered questions posed by faculty members before passing the resolution “overwhelmingly,” according to Mastanduno. Most of the questions revolved around determining which specific areas had been most affected by the budget cuts, he said.
“People were trying to understand the magnitude of the different changes and how much of an impact they had on the ultimate resolution of the budget,” Mastanduno said. “There was a lot of interest in the cuts in staff positions in some academic departments, as well as changes in health care and retirement benefits.”
The strong support the resolution received will help ensure that the administration responds, according to Green.
“The fact that it seemed almost unanimous shows the administration that there is a strong demand for this accounting,” Green said. “The administration said that it will take some effort to compile these results but they will do their very best.”