Professor Sam Crane wrote:

Thank goodness, too, that no one of any significance here listens to anything Kane has to say. His impoverished, economistic approach to the question of what Williams is and should be would produce an arid and stale institution.

Also: why does he seem to assume that people here have not already taken steps to address the unfolding economic crisis? Just because they do not tell David Kane what they are doing does not mean they are doing nothing. They are doing quite a bit, some of which will surprise you when you learn of it.

I replied to much of this here. Today, I want to focus on the last sentence. What will “surprise” us?

First, I don’t know. My sources have been uncharacteristically quiet. If the College is planning a major surprise, I have not heard about it.

Second, I don’t doubt Sam. He is a senior professor with many friends and contacts, including some on the Ad Hoc Committee on Budget Priorities. If he claims that there is a surprise in the works, then I believe him.

Third, I would be shocked (and upset) if the “surprise” involved changes in financial aid, especially the no-loan policy. Williams is in trouble, but not that much trouble. I believe senior trustee Greg Avis ’80 when he implies that financial aid will be the last cut made.

Fourth, I would not be shocked if the surprise were lay-offs. Although Morty promised no lay-offs, the endowment is now in much worse shape than it was in January. Williams has too many staff and a 50 person reduction, via both lay-offs and early retirement would be about the nicest gift that Morty could give to his successor. We heard rumors of lay-offs for after Spring Break. Could dining in Dodd be in the chopping block? You bet. The next big date is the April (this coming week-end?) Trustee meeting. The Trustees will vote to approve the budget. My worry is that the budget is too large, that not enough cutting has been done. If so, I hope that the Trustees reject the budget and tell the Administration to find more cuts.

Fifth, beyond that, I am stumped. I outlined the major cost cutting ideas that I (or anyone else) could come up with in this series. (See also this discussion from Jeff.) I would not be surprised to see any of my recommendations announced. But Sam implies (or perhaps I am reading to much into it) that there is something else major that the College could/will do. What might that be?

Speculation wanted.

Print  •  Email