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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Wright gets cool response from fac.

President of the College James Wright addressed the faculty at yesterday's Fall term faculty meeting to clarify the College's current fiscal situation provoking outspoken protests from many faculty members.

Many attendees expressed frustration with the nature of the cuts and the manner in which the information has been delivered to the faculty.

Wright reported that Dartmouth's $2.2 billion endowment decreased by 5.7 percent during the 2002 fiscal year. The decrease follows a 46.6 percent positive return just two years ago, and an even zero-percent return last year.

The financial downturn and reduced endowment will necessitate budget cuts, Wright said, but Dartmouth will retain basic tenets of its educational ethos, including a commitment to need-blind admissions, maintaining a strong academic environment, advancing research opportunities and retaining the size and quality of tenured faculty.

But despite Wright's assurance that the College's principles will remain intact through the necessary cuts, the response from faculty members was anything but supportive. Professors from various departments stressed their frustration with the secrecy of specifics on budget cuts and the late announcements.

"I would have liked to know about everything earlier instead of being informed in fragments and snippets in 'The D,'" classics Professor Edward Bradley said. "Its all coming at us and we're simply being told after the fact what we must do and what changes are going to be made."

Objections to library budget cuts ranked highest among the faculty's specific concerns.

Art history Professor Joy Kenseth expressed her fear that the proposed cuts to Sherman Library would handicap her entire department.

"The identity of the art history department is inseparable with the Sherman Library. The imposed cuts will impinge dramatically on our ability to teach our subject," Kenseth said. "For us, we use Sherman as our laboratory."

Indeed, worries about the library's future cut across departmental lines.

"One of our most important institutions that defines the college is the library," said Peter Travis, English department chair.

Though faculty members targeted specific budget cuts in their post-speech responses, the President did not mention any specific cuts that will take place.

"We are not looking to make across-the-board cuts," Wright said in his speech. "The goal is to find what can be cut back and still protect the basic principles of the College."

Wright also addressed the recently reported possibility of 30 administrative layoffs. He told the faculty he hoped to avoid any layoffs, but he couldn't guarantee it. Additionally, he said he would like to think that if people were laid off new jobs could be found for them.

This provided another issue of contention for faculty members after the speech, who questioned why layoffs were necessary.

"We shouldn't have to lay anybody off," genetics Professor Victor Ambros said. "Shouldn't that be a principle not to lay anyone off?"

Not all of the fiscal trends Wright mentioned were negative, however. He lauded a steady rise in sponsored research awards, topping out at $157 million for the 2002 fiscal year, $111 million of which the medical school is responsible for.

"In 2000 we celebrated passing the $100 million mark, and now we're up to 157," which is the highest in the Ivy League, Wright said.

Wright concluded the speech on a high note, providing optimism for the near future of the college.

"Dartmouth is a wealthy institution even though we are entering difficult times. However, this is not a time to lose ambitions or aspirations," Wright said. "This is not a time to be satisfied doing less."