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College Announces Plan to Reconcile Budget

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Dartmouth, like other colleges and universities, continues to be affected by the worldwide economic downturn. On Feb. 9, the College announced a budget-reconciliation plan that responds to the recent endowment decline while meeting the College's strategic priorities: preserving the excellence of the academic programs and maintaining its commitment to need-blind admissions and financial aid for U.S. and international students.

kellAlex Kell '10, a member of the Student Assembly's Student Budget Advisory Committee, asked President James Wright about funding for varsity athletics at a Feb. 10 informational meeting on the College budget. Suggestions from students-and other members of the community-have been critical to the process of identifying areas for cost savings. Also participating on the panel were Student Assembly President Molly Bode '09 (moderator); Dean of the College Thomas Crady; Professor Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Adam Keller, executive vice president for finance and administration; and Provost Barry Scherr. (Photo by Tilman Dette '10)

In the six months ending Dec. 31, 2008, investment returns dropped 18 percent, and Dartmouth's endowment declined by $700 million to a value of $3 billion. Dartmouth relies on the endowment to fund about 35 percent of the College-only operating budget.

Under the budget-reconciliation plan, the $450 million College-only budget will be reduced by $35 million in fiscal year 2010, with a total reduction of $47 million through 2011. (The institution-wide $700 million operating budget, which includes Thayer School of Engineering, Tuck School of Business, and Dartmouth Medical School, will be decreased by $72 million through 2011.)

President James Wright, who presented the administration's plan to the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 6 and 7 meeting, stresses that no tenured or tenure track faculty positions are being eliminated, and that Dartmouth's financial aid program (which was significantly enhanced in fall 2008) has not been affected. "The core, the integrity, the basic principles of the Dartmouth Experience have been protected," he says.

Click here for budget communications, including a podcast with President James Wright.

The $47 million in budget reductions over the next two fiscal years reflect savings in compensation ($28 million), building projects ($10 million), and non-compensation costs ($8 million), as well as increased revenue ($1 million). The majority of the decrease in compensation results from a freeze in salaries for fiscal year 2010. One hundred fifty full-time staff positions are being eliminated. The majority of these are through retirement, attrition, and reorganization; sixty positions are being eliminated through layoffs.

"Approving these reductions, especially those affecting staff employees, has been one of the most difficult decisions of my presidency, but they are necessary to maintain Dartmouth's strength and advance our academic mission," says Wright, noting that affected employees are receiving a layoff package. "We're trying to do whatever we can to provide support for people in this difficult period."

Ed Haldeman '70, chair of the Board of Trustees, says, "The worldwide economic downturn has challenged all of us-as individuals, as employers and employees-to consider how to do more with less."

The trustees also approved a 13 percent increase ($8 million) in the financial aid budget, which will be an estimated $72 million in 2009-10. Undergraduate tuition for the 2009-10 academic year will be $38,445, an increase of 4.8 percent (or $1,755) over the current year's tuition rate.

Maria Laskaris '84, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, notes that the increase in financial aid will help meet rising student need. "In this economy, the commitment to our students is even greater," she says. "If students here have little or no financial support from home, do we as an institution have a responsibility to support those students? I think we do.

"Being need-blind [in the admissions process] and meeting students' full financial need means we're basing decisions on what students have accomplished and what they can contribute to the Dartmouth community," she continues.

Wright says, "Our mission, our purpose, is to truly provide here an opportunity for the best students of this generation to receive an educational experience that will enable them to become the leaders of the next generation. We will continue to do that. The College has weathered challenges before and, thanks to the community that sustains it, will emerge stronger than ever."

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 2/20/09