Dartmouth College to cut 150 jobs

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(Host) Another area institution has been forced to cut back because of the recession.

Dartmouth College announced almost 150 job cuts this week – about a third of them through layoffs – as it struggles to reduce spending by ten percent over two years.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Dartmouth President James Wright is due to retire in June after 40 years at the school – the past 11 years as president.

He says he would have preferred not to spend his final year dealing with the worst financial crisis Dartmouth has seen in decades.

(Wright) “Absolutely there are things that I can imagine would be more fun than this. But probably in the final analysis, maybe it’s as important a thing as I will participate in during my presidency because it’s crucial that we position ourselves to continue to provide the strength that Dartmouth education going forward.”

(Sneyd) Earlier this week, Wright announced that Dartmouth would cut spending by $72 million over the next two years.

Positions were cut, salaries were frozen and some staff will work shorter hours. A half-dozen building projects have been shelved for now. Dartmouth will offer about 30 fewer courses next year and student tuition will rise four-point-eight percent to $38,000.

Wright says it’s all been painful, but designed to protect the academics on which Dartmouth built its reputation.

(Wright) “Our responsibility is to make certain that Dartmouth continues to be an institution that is marked by excellence that competes for the very best students and the very best faculty and provides here an educational experience that will allow them to go on to become leaders in their generation. We certainly do not believe that we will have affected that in any substantial ways.”

(Sneyd) Dartmouth’s experience is being repeated at leading schools all over the country that rely heavily on endowments to pay the bills.

Thirty-five percent of Dartmouth’s annual budget is supported by the endowment. As recently as a year ago, there was almost $4 billion in that fund. Today, the total stands at closer to $3 billion.

Wright says that heavy reliance on the endowment has deepened the downturn at Dartmouth. But he says the alternative to using the endowment would be more difficult for students.

(Wright) “Because the only other major funding source would be tuition. And we historically have been more dependent upon tuition than we are now and we were down through the ‘80s. And we just made a decision that we didn’t want to continue doing that because through the ‘80s we were increasing tuition far more dramatically than we have been over the last several years.”

(Sneyd) There are still some more cuts to come at Dartmouth. All of the schools at the college had their budgets reduced this week – except the Medical School. It’s completing a new strategic plan and will announce soon how it will cut $25 million from its budget over the next two years.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

AP Photo/Jim Cole

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