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College halts hiring as it begins considering long-term budget changes

Group of faculty, staff and students to advise administration on budgeting

April 3, 2020

The College has placed a freeze on all new hires as it turns its attention to reexamining the budget in the midst of the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, President Clayton Rose announced in an email on March 27.

The freeze will affect all new hires, with the exception of a few positions necessary to provide essential campus services, according to Matt Orlando, senior vice president for finance and administration and College treasurer.

“Until we have a better grasp of the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is only spending discretionary money on goods and services to support remote learning and the essential needs of students, faculty, and staff who are still on campus,” Orlando wrote in an email to the Orient. “Unless an open position jeopardizes our ability to deliver these critical areas, we will hold off on filing it for the time being.”

On Thursday, Rose also announced the creation of a working group composed of faculty, staff and students to advise him and Orlando throughout the budgeting process. The committee will be chaired by Professor of Economics Guillermo (“Ta”) Herrera and includes two students, Will Hausmann ’22 and Caitlin Loi ’20.

In the short term, the College will not make any changes to its budget for the current fiscal year.

“Any budget savings for the current fiscal year will come primarily from food purchases, residence hall utility closets, major maintenance and cancelled travel and events,” Orlando wrote. “These areas will not have any impact on remote learning.”

In his email announcing the creation of the group, however, Rose steeled the community for significant financial hardships in the near future.

“For now, the required changes to the budget will result in some difficult choices, including forgoing exciting opportunities and reducing or eliminating programs or services that we value,” wrote Rose. “It will also mean sacrifice by each of us individually, as was true during the financial crisis that began in 2008.”

In a phone interview with the Orient, Rose said the College has yet to determine which programs would see the most significant cuts to their budgets.

“We’ve just begun the [budget] exercise, and there is a lot of uncertainty around what the world is going to bring in the next month, two months, three months and so forth,” said Rose.

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One comment:

  1. Bill V. says:

    Wonder if these implicit threats of future austerity reflect one or more of:

    1. a possible market reassessment of worth of a liberal arts education;

    2. declines in the value of the College’s endowment and associated dividend income;

    3. worries about lower rates of alum. giving, matching grants, or testamentary legacies; and/or

    4. a “shot across the bow” in possible efforts by College staff to unionize?

    Thoughts or comments?

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