College freezes staff hiring, halts wage increases

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 4/3/20 3:10pm

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by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

In an email to campus on Friday afternoon, provost Joseph Helble announced a series of steps the College will take to help mitigate the effects of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes include a freeze on staff hiring through the end of December, with a possible extension to be decided upon in November, and no annual wage or stipend increases for the next fiscal year, with limited exceptions.

Additionally, the College announced that there will be targeted reductions in expenses for the fourth quarter, beginning April 1, including cuts to spending on “services, supplies, food, events, and other expenditures that are not critical to Dartmouth's spring quarter operation.”

The email also addressed why the College has chosen not to pull funds from its $5.7 billion endowment to cover its revenue losses.

“The purpose of the endowment is to provide a steady, reliable income stream in support of specified activities, and to provide sustainable financial support to serve Dartmouth’s mission in perpetuity,” Helble wrote. “Its purpose is not to serve as a reserve fund.”

The email added that while College trustees may eventually draw funds from the endowment to respond to the impacts of an economic downturn, such withdrawals will be done with discretion. 

The pandemic has left Dartmouth with an operating budget deficit, according to Helble. Although the exact deficit will “likely change” as the situation evolves, Helble wrote that lost revenue exceeds the room and board earnings that the College will not collect this term.

The email stated that the revenue stabilization fund, established by College President Phil Hanlon following his arrival to Dartmouth in 2013, will help buffer the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Helble added that the College will see a decline in the value of its institutional investments and an increase in financial aid requests, in addition to the loss of room and board revenue.

Helble added that the College has “not made any decisions for the next fiscal year” regarding staff workers, excepting the freezes in wages, hiring and spending. He reiterated that the College “remain[s] committed” to paying all regular, non-temporary staff base pay through June 30.

“We cannot promise to deliver good news,” Helble wrote, adding he aimed to “remain transparent” about any necessary future actions.

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