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Townhall, 5

Williams held a faculty/staff townhall on May 26. Kudos to the college for its transparency in making a replay (and transcript) of the event available, including (on purpose?) to the public. The Record, which has been excellent throughout 2020, did not provide coverage. Let’s discuss for a week.

$3 million dollars per year for tuition benefit is bananas! End it now. Or, at least end for any child less than 10, or, at a minimum, end it for new employees.

1) Does anyone know all the details of this program? How have the costs risen over time? When did it start? My guess/sense is that this program started very small (back in the 50s?) perhaps just as as reciprocal tuition discount among NESCAC schools for the benefit of faculty children. Whatever the start, it has expanded year-after-year.

2) This program is absurdly unfair to employees without children.

3) As always, the best way to predict the behavior of the Administration is to assume that Williams is run by a cabal of corrupt insiders, bent on siphoning as much money away from the endowment for the their personal benefit. More likely than Maud ending a program like this one is for her to expand it, for Williams to start subsidizing the private high school tuition or graduate school tuition for employee children. (I assume (correctly?) that such options are not part of the current program. Am I naive?)

4) Whenever we propose cutting spending on program X, the cry goes up, “No! You can’t cut that! We need it to recruit faculty (and staff).” This has, always, been garbage. Pay people the market wage for their skills and they will come work for you. But it is especially garbage during a global recession, with a US unemployment rate above 15%. The academic job market is a wasteland. Williams could replace its entire faculty tomorrow, with only an increase in teaching/research quality. That does not mean that I think we should do that! I don’t! I love (most!) of our Williams faculty. My only point is that the ending of the tuition benefit program will have zero effect on our ability to recruit and retain high quality faculty.