Last December, I wrote you regarding the global economic situation and its effect on Bard College at Simon's Rock. In that communication, I outlined the three principles that would guide the management of budgetary decisions as we moved towards the new 2009-2010 academic year. Those basic principles were, first, we must protect the mission of the college and protect our academic core. Second, we must secure recent accomplishments in our major initiatives, including diversifying the campus, developing signature programs, establishing the Win Commons and experiencing success in admissions and enrollment. Third, we must work hard to preserve jobs, so that the people who have worked so hard to build this campus will remain a part of this community.
Those principles have continued to guide us.
Enrollment is strong. Unfortunately, like most colleges across the country our other revenues have taken a hit. We also have to anticipate that charitable giving will be suppressed as our supporters rebuild their portfolios. These factors affect our bottom line and we have taken action to ensure the well-being of the institution, its students and employees.
As forecasts for next year's revenue and expense developed, it became clear that serious cost cutting measures would need to be taken. Without acting, the College faced a deficit in the upcoming fiscal year of approximately $900,000 on a $26 million annual budget. This deficit, while not institution-threatening, is substantial and requires action. It is made more problematic because over 70% of our base budget is dedicated to personnel.
To balance the budget, we have made adjustments in three general areas: 1) 10-15% reductions have been made in institution-wide expenses; 2) strategic reductions have been implemented in targeted areas such as contracted services; and 3) we are trying not to fill vacant positions unless necessary. Through these measures, we have reduced the deficit by half.
Unfortunately, given the nature of higher education, and with so much of the College's budget relating to personnel, elimination of some jobs became unavoidable. I have worked with my colleagues and reviewed staff positions one by one to identify those that could be assumed by others or restructured for efficiency and savings. In the end, 8 of the College's 220 jobs were eliminated, effective as of June 30, 2009. These cuts cross every department and include the administrative leadership. I am also taking a substantial pay cut.
This was a painful decision. Simon's Rock is a small, tight knit community, so layoffs are deeply personal and difficult. Losing valued staff members was always a decision we hoped to avoid, but ultimately one that needed to be made in order to protect the students, the academic core and the quality of education. Unfortunately, the College is not immune from making difficult decisions spurred by the economic conditions plaguing the country and higher education.
While not alone in the world of higher education, we are alone in our unique mission. As difficult as resolving this potential deficit has been, doing so is clearly in the best interests of the institution and the necessary action to secure the health of the College.
Sometimes an organization's strength is judged by its response to harsh realities. We have always been innovators in education and we have always been a strong community. These traits will sustain us, and returning students and the incoming class of 2009 will find us ready to do what we do best."
Mary B. Marcy
Provost and Vice President
Bard College at Simon's Rock
Does anyone know who's been laid off?