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Dartmouth Announces Budget Reconciliation Plan

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President James Wright sets 'protecting excellence' as the highest priority: 'We have been guided by our commitment to protect the excellence of the academic programs and to continue to provide access for the best students regardless of their financial means.'

Sixty staff members face layoffs as a result of reorganizations; Twenty-eight will work reduced hours

Dartmouth announced on Feb. 9 a budget-reconciliation plan to decrease its $700 million operating budget by $72 million between now and 2011. The Board of Trustees has endorsed the administration's plan, which includes a reduction of $47 million in the $450 million College-only budget (excluding the three professional schools: Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business).


Baker(Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)


In a letter to the community following the Feb. 6 and 7 meeting of the Board of Trustees, President Wright announced Dartmouth's strategic priorities: to preserve the excellence of the academic programs and to maintain its commitment to need-blind admissions and financial aid for U.S. and international students.

Read more about the College budget,
ask questions, and submit your
suggestions here.
The worldwide economic downturn has resulted in sharp declines in endowments for colleges and universities. Dartmouth relies on its endowment to fund about 35 percent of its College-only operating budget. In the six months ending Dec. 31, 2008, investment returns dropped 18 percent, and  Dartmouth's endowment value dropped to $3 billion.

Last fall, Wright asked the Dartmouth community to participate in a bottom-up process to contribute ideas for budget efficiencies. Hundreds of suggestions were submitted through College-wide open forums, and at the divisional and departmental levels. The budget-reconciliation plan was developed by Dartmouth's senior officers and finalized by President Wright.

The College-only budget will be reduced by $35 million in fiscal year 2010, and by a total of $47 million through 2011. In a Feb. 9 letter to the community, Provost Barry Scherr and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Adam Keller explained that "We have reduced compensation by $28 million, building project expenses by $10 million, non-compensation costs by $8 million, and we will add $1 million in new revenue. The majority of the compensation reduction results from the freeze in salaries for fiscal year 2010."

Despite measures introduced last November to reduce compensation expenses, which represent half of Dartmouth's operating budget, Dartmouth has announced that 60 staff members are being laid off through reorganizations that involve the elimination of about 150 positions. (See box on page 1 for more information about the layoff package.) Twenty-eight other staff members will work reduced hours. Steps taken last fall, in an effort to minimize the number of potential layoffs, included a retirement incentive offer, which 70 staff members accepted in January, and a freeze on external hiring for most vacant positions, which will continue to be in effect.

President James Wright said, "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."

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

"We appreciate the service and dedication of the staff members who will be leaving Dartmouth," he continued. "The College will be as supportive as possible of these individuals through this difficult period of transition."


Protecting the excellence of Dartmouth's academic programs and providing access for the best students regardless of their financial means.


  • Investment returns dropped 18 percent in the six months ending Dec. 31, 2008.
  • Dartmouth's endowment value declined $700 million, to $3 billion.
  • The endowment funds 35 percent of the College-only operating budget.


Reduce the institution-wide operating budget of $700 million by $72 million between now and 2011.

Reduce the $450 million College-only (excluding Tuck, Thayer, and DMS) operating budget by $47 million between now and 2011. Reductions:

  • Compensation: $28 million
  • Building projects: $10 million
  • Non-compensation costs: $8 million
  • Additional revenue: $1 million
College-only net savings: $47 million


  • All administrative areas are reducing their  workforces. (More than 50 percent of the operating budget supports the workforce.) 150 full-time positions are being eliminated. The majority of these are through retirements, attrition, and reorganizations. 60 positions are being eliminated through layoffs, most effective April 10, 2009.
  • The layoff package includes 2 weeks of pay for each consecutive year worked at Dartmouth, with a minimum of 4 weeks and a maximum of 52; a lump sum payment toward the full cost of maintaining health benefits for three months; employment counseling; consideration as internal candidates for open positions through this calendar year; and extension of other benefits such as child care and housing.
  • 28 staff members will work reduced hours, with a payment to offset any increased cost for health benefits through the end of the calendar year.
  • Approximately one-third of faculty searches will be postponed. No tenure or tenure-track positions have been eliminated.
  • The freeze on external hiring, implemented in November 2008, remains in effect.
  • Most salaries will be frozen for FY 2010. Full-time employees earning less than $50,000 who have been employed at Dartmouth since Jan. 1, 2009, will receive a $1,000 supplement (except for those at Dartmouth Medical School). The amount will be prorated for part-time employees.
  • Some building projects will be deferred, including the Thayer Dining Hall replacement, the Class of 1953 Commons, the full renovation of the West Stands at Memorial Field, a satellite parking facility on Route 120, and one of two renovation projects intended to provide housing for sororities. Plans for the Visual Arts Center and C. Everett Koop Medical Science Center will continue to be reviewed.
  • Additional savings will be realized through reductions in expenses including travel, conferences, gatherings on and off campus, and print publications.


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

Last Updated: 2/13/09