Kim's tenure led to budget reform, health care advancement

by Diana Ming | 6/8/12 10:00pm

College President Jim Yong Kim who will leave his position on June 30 to assume the World Bank presidency following two years and ten months in office focused his tenure on leading the College through a financial crisis and raising the institution's profile via health-related and student wellness initiatives, according to Chief of Staff David Spalding '76.

Following a 23 percent drop in the College's endowment in the 2009 fiscal year, his first year in office, Kim led an effort to cut $100 million from a projected $900 million budget, Spalding said.

Kim, working with Provost Carol Folt and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Steven Kadish, announced the Strategic Budget Reduction and Investment initiative in 2009. The plan targeted specific institutional areas such as administrative support and benefits and compensation instead of implementing uniform reductions across all departments.

By May 2011, the College had achieved its first budget surplus since the initiative's implementation and was on track to close the $100-million budget gap for fiscal year 2012.

"The budget issue was very tough to deal with," Spalding said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "Trying to find a way to deal with the issue that would minimize the impact on student experience and on the faculty was a great challenge. Kim and the active effort led by Folt and Kadish really brought it to a successful conclusion."

Despite meeting its budgetary goals and completing the Strategic Budget Reduction and Investment process, the College underwent major financial changes and received public criticism for several of its budget-related decisions.

The budget cuts maintained the College's policy of need-blind admission but eliminated the no-loan policy for students whose families made more than $75,000 per year. The Board of Trustees voted in March 2012 to raise the no-loan threshold to $100,000.

Multiple phases of layoffs of College staff were integral to the budget cuts and totaled roughly 2 percent of the College's non-teaching workforce. The controversial layoffs resulted in protests from Students Stand with Staff, which was founded during Kim's tenure to advocate for administrative accountability in budget cuts and layoff decisions.

Kim also enacted administrative restructuring in an attempt to create a leaner and more streamlined administration. The restructuring created the new chief of staff position for Spalding, as well as the Advancement division, overseen by Senior Vice President for Advancement Carrie Pelzel.

Motivated by an alleged lack of transparency, religion professor Ronald Green led faculty efforts to increase transparency of the administration's budget policy and proposed a resolution at a May 2011 faculty meeting that requested more details regarding the budget cuts.

"Since I am not a numbers person, I cannot really say what was accomplished by the [Strategic Budget Reduction and Investment initiative]," Green said in an email to The Dartmouth. "I hope that the savings effected by President Kim and his associates reap dividends in the future, but only time will tell."

In addition to focusing on budget restructuring, Kim also championed various initiatives in line with his background in health.

Kim was instrumental in the founding of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which was created with an anonymous $35-million donation in 2010 and encourages collaboration between departments to solve health care delivery problems. The Center, which has received endorsements from Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., as well as General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt '78, offers health care-related classes to undergraduates and introduced a master's degree program in health care delivery science in collaboration with the Tuck School of Business.

In addition, Kim made alcohol harm and sexual assault reduction programs on campus a priority during his presidency, Spalding said.

In March 2010, Kim formed two student committees the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee and the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault which aimed to facilitate discussion of their respective topics and offer policy suggestions to reduce alcohol-related harm on campus.

"From the beginning, he realized that these were problems that students were going to have to be engaged in and students were going to have to solve," Spalding said.

SPAHRC proposed several recommendations in May 2010, including the formation of a student monitoring initiative to ensure Greek houses' compliance with College alcohol policies, the creation of an alcohol coordinator position and the limitation of beer cans through a more liberal keg policy.

In 2010, Kim created the National College Health Improvement Project, encouraging various institutions to address student health problems. In April 2011, the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking NCHIP's inaugural effort was launched in conjunction with 31 other colleges and universities. The Collaborative, an 18-month initiative whose members will convene for the last time in July, aims to combat underage drinking across the nation.

"Certainly the structures we've put in place and our investments in student wellness are satisfying because we have the opportunity to really improve the health climate on campus," Spalding said. "But these goals are ambitious and will take a long time to accomplish."

Kim's work during his tenure has put the College in a strong position for the future, Spalding said.

"I think it's a shame that Kim is leaving at this point," he said. "We're poised now with the opportunity to invest in this great academic enterprise. We're going to see a lot of progress that will be made in the next 10 years based on the work that [Kim] did."