Dartmouth Trustees Look To Cut Budget

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(Host) The Board of Trustees at Dartmouth College is meeting this weekend to determine how to cut one hundred million dollars from the school’s budget over the next two years. 

The trustees are looking at many options but more layoffs are expected. 

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Dartmouth is the major economic engine in the Upper Valley – a fact college President Jim Yong Kim acknowledged last month when he braced the Dartmouth community for the cuts to come.

(Kim) "But with a hundred million dollar deficit, the engine is broken. And so we’ve got to fix it."

(Zind) This weekend, the college’s Board of Trustees will map out a series of steps to erase that deficit.   

(Speaker) "You guys are the most power statement possible of how this community is connected." (cheers)

(Zind) Thursday, several hundred students, faculty and Dartmouth employees gathered to voice their concerns that the trustees will resort to significant layoffs.

Peter Marsh is an officer with the local Service Employees International Union which represents about 550 of the 4,000 non-faculty staff at the college.  The layoffs won’t include union workers, but Marsh says the union is willing to make concessions to avoid any job losses. 

(Mars) "We have gone to the college and said to them flat out:  "what do you need the union to do?"

(Zind) Last month, the union asked the college to put a hold on layoffs, but the college  declined the request. 

Marsh says the relationship between Dartmouth and its employees has always been special.  Families like his have worked at the college for generations. 

(Marsh) "We don’t have the financial capacity to give them money.  We give it in blood and sweat and tears, as sappy as that sounds." 

(Zind) Marsh says layoffs will hurt the community and Dartmouth’s relationship with it.

Steven Kadish is Senior Vice President at Dartmouth.  Kadish says the budget process has worked from the bottom up – consulting faculty, staff and students and soliciting public input in the form of more than a thousand suggestions. 

(Kadish)  "It really is a community approach that has been impressive, in my mind."

(Zind)  Kadish says as much as possible the shortfall is being made up by improved efficiencies and other savings and that layoffs are a last resort.  

(Kadish) "We’re doing everything we can to minimize layoffs."

(Zind) Whatever the college announce, it will only be the first in a series of steps. 

Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim says dealing with the problems quickly will eventually put Dartmouth in a better position to develop new projects, new revenue and ultimately new jobs.

For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind in Hanover.

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