June 15, 2009
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Over the last year, as it became apparent that we would need to reduce staffing to address the college’s financial challenges, I promised that we would notify affected employees as quickly as possible, to honor their service to Smith and support their transition to alternative employment.
I want you to know that the notifications to staff members, whether about position elimination or reduction, are now complete. In total, 44 staff positions, in departments across the college, will be affected over the next two years.
Any loss of co-workers and friends from our community is difficult; their contributions and colleagueship will be deeply felt and missed. In the end, we were able to reduce the number of people affected by holding open positions vacant, offering voluntary reductions, and restructuring work in some areas.
Staff members whose positions are being eliminated have been given at least 60 days’ notice and severance compensation of at least 10 weeks’ base pay plus supplemental earnings related to their years of service at Smith. They are meeting with Human Resources staff and have been offered outplacement services and career counseling. For a full year beyond their notice date, they will retain the status of internal applicants for any posted vacancies that occur at the college.
One of the more visible structural changes has taken place in the area of campus safety. Effective July 1, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges will be served by a single public safety department with a centralized dispatch operation and base offices on each campus. We were able to offer positions in this new collaborative department to all but one of our employees. That individual, as well as those who declined offers, received severance compensation.
Going forward, each campus can largely expect to be served by the officers who already work there; additionally, the newly combined staff will take on the responsibility of becoming familiar with all of the campuses in case the need for back-up arises. I am grateful for the investment each of them will make in learning how best to serve the safety needs of our three campus communities.
As staff in the libraries know, and as announced by the Five College presidents earlier this spring, analysis is under way of the potential for consolidating library technical services among our institutions, centralizing such operations as acquisitions, cataloging, and materials processing. As we develop a plan, I will continue to communicate with you about the changes in the coming year.
Finally, to aid departments in event planning, I wanted to mention a recent budget-related decision regarding dining services. Starting this fall, the Smith College Club will function as a catering venue only, providing meals for scheduled events and speaker series such as the Liberal Arts Lunches, Teaching Arts Lunches and Sigma Xi, but eliminating individual lunch service. The Campus Center Café will continue to serve during its usual operating hours.
The changes detailed here as well as those in my previous communications represent Smith’s two-year plan for permanently closing a budget gap of at least $20 million. In developing this plan now, we are concluding a chapter that other institutions are only now beginning to open. I ask your continued engagement, creativity and collaboration as we reorganize processes across the college to serve students in their education. Moving forward in this work together, I thank every staff member for making Smith the extraordinary and transformative institution that it is.
Carol T. Christ