18 February 2009
Dear Faculty, Students and Staff:
At its meeting earlier this month, the College’s Board of Trustees approved a two-phase plan for reducing the College’s operating budget by at least 5 percent, or about $5 million, over the next two years. Since then, the President’s Cabinet has refined a set of recommendations and has developed a process for making this budget reduction that will allow opportunities for feedback and suggestions from across the Bryn Mawr community. The Trustees, the Cabinet and I are committed to conducting an open, inclusive and transparent process through which all members of the community—faculty, staff, and students—can learn about the financial constraints facing the College, can be alerted to the areas where reductions are recommended and can offer insight and ideas on how to fulfill our mission while reducing expenses.
We need to remind ourselves that our current discussion of budget adjustments continues a conversation Bryn Mawr began several years ago about the need to balance mission and resources. Our shared goal as we seek this balance must be the protection of the College’s core mission: to recruit and retain the most qualified students, both undergraduate and graduate; to support the teaching and research of an outstanding faculty; and to provide an educational experience of uncompromising excellence. Today I would like to provide you with an outline of the budget adjustments we must make over the next weeks and months and I would like to make you aware of the opportunities we are creating for your contributions to this critical process.
To accomplish the task before us, we must all think broadly about what is best for the entire College. We need to assess the fundamental operations and programs of the College and identify the costs and benefits of potential changes. We need to consider and analyze many different budget options, including prioritization within our curricula, adjustments in dining services and transportation, modifications in our use and support of technology, greater centralization of administrative services, etc. These and many other recommendations will be brought forward for discussion. We will also be looking at potential sources of revenue generation and at numerous suggestions for cost savings that have already been received from across our community. Although the magnitude of the necessary budget reduction will unfortunately include some job losses, we hope most of these will occur through attrition.
Because of the continuing economic downturn, Phase I of our two-stage process must begin immediately and initial budget reductions of at least $3 million will be implemented by March 31. These Phase I changes, which are being discussed by the Cabinet and Campus Budget Committee, are those that require a less complex analysis and less time to implement. The importance of taking action in a timely manner does not allow for an extended consultation process in this phase, but dedicated budget discussions with faculty, staff and students will be scheduled over the next month.
Phase II of the plan endorsed by the Board of Trustees will include the analysis of those changes to our operations that require more extensive community input and feasibility planning. During this phase, we will solicit feedback from faculty, staff and students about how proposed changes may affect the College and we will continue to seek new ideas from community members for increasing revenue and reducing costs. Concurrently, we are advancing conversations with Haverford about ways to save money and improve services through better Bi-College collaboration and the results of these investigations will also become part of our community discussions.
In the coming weeks and months, we will provide various ways for community members to participate in this two-phase budget planning process and to receive updates on the progress of this effort.
Please let me conclude with a word of thanks for the support and feedback about our budget situation already provided by the community. I know we are all feeling the burden of the decisions we will soon make, and I thank you in advance for your willingness to participate in this challenging process and to give it your time and attention.