Thirty College employees representing 1 percent of Dartmouth's total workforce will be laid off as part of next year's budget cuts, but it remains unclear exactly which jobs will be lost.
Although administrators had hoped to reduce the budget by more than 6 percent without eliminating current employees, administrative and service department heads indicated in proposals submitted to the College's budget committee that layoffs would be one of the most expedient ways to achieve the cuts they have been asked to make, Provost Barry Scherr said.
Keeping College President James Wright's directive -- that budget cuts be made without harming the academic quality of the College -- in mind, the committee has decided that non-faculty layoffs are necessary, Director of Public Affairs Bill Walker said.
"There has been a really strong effort on everyone's part to protect the academic resources here," Walker said. "Every effort is being made to make the cuts in a way that will minimize the academic impact."
The committee is still in the process of reviewing the proposals, and will not make any definite decisions until at least mid-November, Scherr said.
Scherr broke the news to College employees in a lengthy explanatory email sent late yesterday morning. Taking pains to inform employees about severance packages and job-counseling, the email was intended to allay fears that layoffs might be even more severe than they in fact are, Walker said.
"We know that there are rumors out there about large numbers of layoffs," Walker said. "One of the primary purposes of the email was to give people a sense of what the actual numbers might be as opposed to what people might be imagining."
Both Scherr and Walker stressed that despite an indication in the email that about 30 jobs will have to go, the ongoing examining of budget proposals means that no one knows for sure the exact number and nature of the positions to be eliminated.
The last time the College laid off employees was over 10 years ago, when an early-1990s recession also prompted budget cuts.
Beause salaries make up a large percentage of the College's operating expenses, cutting jobs is a highly effective, albeit emotionally difficult, way of minimizing costs in the midst of a budget crisis, Walker explained.
The mass email to employees notwithstanding, administrators are remaining relatively tight-lipped about the situation. Director of Employment and Classification Linda Barton declined to comment, calling the matter "an institutional issue" outside her realm of expertise.
And Union 570 President Earl Sweet, who represents Dartmouth service employees, said the email was the first he heard of the cuts, although he hopes to meet with Scherr to obtain more details in the near future.
Scherr expressed a mixed sense of regret and obligation.
"Obviously you would hope that you wouldn't have to do it, but given the size of the budget cuts it's necessary," he said.