Tuck announces layoffs due to budget deficit

by Andrew Sasser | 9/29/20 2:05am

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by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

As the College continues to ride out a wave of revenue losses, budget cuts and hits to various programs due to the financial fallout of COVID-19, the Tuck School of Business announced on Sept. 15 that it had laid off 18 staff members. Meanwhile, the Thayer School of Engineering has announced that it is not planning any layoffs, and other divisions at the College have not announced decisions about job reductions at this time.

In an email to Tuck employees, Tuck dean Matthew Slaughter wrote that the decision to lay off staff members was one of the most “painful” and “difficult” actions the school has taken to ensure budgetary resiliency. He wrote that the decision was “carefully considered” in light of Tuck’s year-end deficit of $3.3 million, which required that the school draw from non-endowment reserves. 

“The ongoing impact of COVID-19, combined with strategic investments needed for Tuck’s future require[d] decisive action to ensure our financial stability this year and beyond,” Slaughter wrote.

Affected employees will keep their jobs until the end of October, according to the email. Slaughter added that the school is making three new positions available “exclusively” to laid-off staff and that all will be entitled to severance pay and career-coaching services. Slaughter did not specify which positions were eliminated or whether more layoffs were possible.

Slaughter noted that the school had already taken other steps to “ensure financial stability,” including expense reduction, reductions in professional contracting services and voluntary salary reductions for administrators and some faculty.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email to The Dartmouth that there will be no widespread institutional layoffs. Instead, “[e]ach division and school will be making its own decisions.”  College Provost Joseph Helble noted in the Sept. 16 “Community Conversations” broadcast that it will be up to “each divisional leader” to determine if job reductions will be necessary to meet budgetary targets.

The main divisions of the College are advancement, campus services, Dean of the College, Dean of the Faculty, finance and administration, Geisel, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, Thayer, the Board of Trustees and Tuck.

While Tuck has announced layoffs, no employees have been laid off at Thayer, according to Thayer dean Alexis Abramson. 

Abramson added that the Thayer administration plans to continually “evaluate ways to conserve our resources, including leaving vacant positions unfilled” and also noted that Thayer administrators have been “good financial stewards by deliberately spending less than our revenue growth.”

Geisel spokesperson Derik Hertel wrote in an email that no decisions have been made about possible financial adjustments at the medical school, including any layoffs, furloughs or other changes in employment. He added that the school is currently evaluating what measures may be needed to meet the financial targets set by the College.

Director of varsity athletics communications Rick Bender wrote in an email that 15 positions were eliminated in athletics — which falls under the Office of the President — due to the decision to cut five varsity sports in July. Bender added that no additional positions have been laid off because of the cancellation of fall sports and no further layoffs in athletics are currently anticipated.

Associate vice president of facilities operations management Frank Roberts confirmed that there have been no layoffs in facilities operations — a subgroup of campus services. Dartmouth Dining director Jon Plodzik and associate vice president for planning, design and construction John Scherding — whose departments both fall under campus services — and chief financial officer Mike Wagner — who leads the finance and administration division — declined requests for comment on employment changes.

Chris Peck, president of the Local 560 Branch of the Service Employees International Union, which is the labor union for the College’s service workers, said that none of the employees affected by layoffs thus far have been affiliated with the SEIU. He added that while he believed there was a chance that union employees could have been laid off, the return of students has reduced those concerns.

Peck added that while some employees have needed to work second shifts to accommodate child care needs, it is a “much better option for them than a furlough or layoff.”

“As of right now, things are going in a good direction,” Peck said. “We hope that the College will recognize all of the hard work our service workers are doing for students and campus.”