Did any reader attend last week’s staff meeting with Morty?

Dear Staff Member,

We hope you will use this site to submit questions for us to address in the two open economic forums for staff scheduled for Thursday, April 9th at 10:30 and Friday, April 10th at 2:45.

The submissions, all of which are confidential unless you choose to put your name on yours, will go to members of the Staff Council. They’ll organize them and pass them on to us.

To give time for that work, the site will stop taking submissions on April 1st.

Thank you for taking part in this important conversation.

Morty Schapiro, President
Bill Lenhart, Provost
Steve Klass, VP for Operations

I don’t think that this meeting was secret, so please tell us what happened. I would be especially curious to know about any promises made (or not made) about avoiding lay-offs. Morty has made a big deal about this in the past, but lead trustee Greg Avis ’80 was less adamant. I think that, unless the College is going to make significant changes in financial aid, lay-offs are inevitable.

The secret to firing people is to do it all at once and to do enough so that everyone who is left “knows” that there job is safe. The natural options the timing of any lay-off announcements would be either a) Next week after the Trustee meeting or b) After May 1 (the decision deadline for the class of 2013, or c) Late June, after graduation and reunions. There are advantages and disadvantages for each choice.

Think that I am crying Wolf again? Note that Harvard is talking about lay-offs.

Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences faces a projected recurring annual deficit of $220 million within two years if it does not cut spending substantially and reshape its academic ambitions, Michael D. Smith, the group’s dean, warned yesterday.

Smith said that in the next two weeks, he plans to create working groups to help identify further large-scale cuts that could include changes to academic programs and other “intellectual activities” that would reshape the faculty.

Staff layoffs may be unavoidable, he said. “I have no desire to do layoffs, but it’s increasingly likely . . . that we will not have as much need for faculty or staff as we have today,” Smith said.

Harvard is much wealthier than Williams. If they are planning lay-offs, what do you think lies in our future?

UPDATE: Although there are many messy details in measuring budgets, a back-of-the-envelope guess as to Harvard’s planned budget cutting is about 20% (over $200 million out of a $1.1 operating budget). Roughly speaking, that corresponds to a $40 million dollar cut at Williams (20% of an operating budget of $200 million). I was excoriated for proposing $10 million worth of cuts. Where do readers who don’t like those cuts think the savings are going to come from? We can be almost certain that an announcement about early retirements is coming soon.

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