Staffing Changes and Reorganizations
President H. Kim Bottomly
April 7, 2009
Since last fall, I have communicated regularly with you regarding the impact of the global economic crisis on Wellesley College, the projected revenue shortfall we expect to face due to a decline in the value of Wellesley’s endowment, the process senior staff and I are using to make budget decisions, and the results of those decisions. I am grateful to everyone who has participated in this process by attending open forums, asking questions, and suggesting ways we can better manage our costs and become a more agile and responsive institution.
Our guiding principle has been, and will continue to be, preserving our core academic enterprise, not only the strength of our academic offerings but also our need-blind admission program and financial aid policy of meeting the full need of every eligible student. The budget for 2009-2010 that I will present to the Board of Trustees later this month will reflect these core principles.
I realize that the changes we have made to meet these financial challenges affect every member of our community. We have frozen salaries for all faculty and administrative staff. We have announced changes in service and programs affecting, among other areas, residential life and dining services. By the end of this fiscal year, we will have reduced non-faculty positions, across every division of the College, by approximately 80, through attrition, through retirement, and through layoffs of 44 people who occupy administrative and union positions that will be eliminated. The decision to lay off employees is a particularly painful one. In identifying positions to be eliminated, members of senior staff and I were keenly aware that each decision would affect a valued member of our community with whom we have personal relationships. We are losing colleagues and friends who have served the College well, and we extend our thanks and appreciation for their years of service and dedication.
We have worked closely with the Human Resources staff to make these difficult transitions as respectful and dignified as possible. Administrative employees whose positions have been eliminated will have the chance to return to their offices to collect their personal belongings and to say farewell through the end of the week. They will receive severance pay based on their years of service, personal and career counseling assistance, and transitional financial assistance which can be used for health insurance or other expenses. Under the terms of their contract, union employees whose positions have been eliminated will remain in their positions until June.
Over the past six weeks, over 50 administrative and union employees have elected to participate in the voluntary retirement incentive program. Each of these decisions was a deeply personal, and sometimes difficult, choice. Through their efforts, these individuals have touched the lives of countless colleagues, students, and alumnae. Their contributions, knowledge, and expertise are woven into the fabric of this institution, and they will be sorely missed. As is our tradition, we will have an opportunity to honor and thank everyone who is retiring at a dinner on May 19th. In addition, we will hold a campus-wide celebration in May. Details will be provided in a future communication and I hope you will join me at this special event.
The departure of a valued colleague is never easy, and a major reorganization such as we are undergoing challenges everyone in our community. As a result of the workforce reduction and other planned restructurings, everyone’s job will change, and we will have to work collaboratively to determine how best to function in this new environment.
Members of senior staff have been working together to reorganize and realign functional areas within and across divisions in ways that support our institutional priorities. They have paid attention to recommendations from the community, examined changes in the nature of our work, and sought opportunities to collaborate and to coordinate processes in support of programs and services, while reducing costs. These reorganizations are currently under review by the Human Resources Office, the Finance Office, the senior staff, and me. When we know the details of these proposed plans, we will communicate them through administrative department heads, chairs of academic departments, and governance bodies as appropriate. We will consult with the relevant groups about the best way to implement these changes.
The Human Resources Office will be announcing a series of programs and services for staff and faculty on the topic of managing change. The HR Web site will be updated with additional programs as they are scheduled (http://new.wellesley.edu/HR/new/index.html).
The challenges and opportunities of working in an environment of ongoing reorganization will be the main topic at our next Administrative Council meeting on April 15.
In addition, an open forum will be held on Wednesday, April 15th from 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. in Room 104 of the Campus Center. Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Associate Dean of the College, Patricia Byrne, Vice President for Administration and Planning, and Debra DeMeis, Dean of Students, will be available to answer any questions you might have. There are two sessions remaining in our scheduled brown bag community lunches, April 14th and April 27th.
Although we cannot predict what the economic situation will be in the months or years to come, we hope that these hard decisions will position us to meet future challenges. We will continue to focus on our shared commitment to the quality of Wellesley’s academic life. To do so, we will rely, as we always have, on the Wellesley community for your ideas, your support, and your commitment to the mission of Wellesley that guides us all.
I want to extend my personal thanks to every one of you who has served Wellesley so well for so many years and to those colleagues who will help shape the reorganizations.