February 5, 2004
11 a.m., Dewey Common Room
Revised version approved March 4, 2004
Kim Allen, Adrianne Andrews, Nancy Brady, Chris Carr Hill, Janice
Cole, Karen Hebert, Marti Hobbes, Linda LaFlam, Karen LeHouiller,
Merrilyn Lewis, Jinny Mason, Laura Matta, Janice McDowell, Steve
Montiero, Linda Rainville, Laura Rauscher, Patricia Swan, Mike Washut,
Excused: Adrian Beaulieu, Serena Harris, Susan Hollingsworth, Dianne
Mikucki, Janine Nye,
Guests: Stacey Anasazi, Sandy Bycenski, LouAnn Krawczynski, Sabrina
Marsh, Chrissie Bell, Cindy Furtek, Felicia Leveille, Nancy Rich,
Also President Carol T. Christ and
- Minutes of January 7 meeting were approved.
- Merrilyn explained how the new meeting dates and times were
arrived at and asked everyone to mark their calendars with these
dates for the remainder of the year
Regular Staff Council meeting days
First Thursday of the month 1-2:00 p. m. (March 4, April 1, May
6 and June 3) also a Special (catch-up) meeting: February 19, 1-2:00
NOTE: please hold March 4, 12-2:00 PM. (awaiting confirmation) as
it may be a Training meeting with Carol Bevan-Bogart
Also, the Steering Committee will meet on Thursdays: February 26,
March 25, April 29 and May 27 from 2:00-3:00
- President Carol T. Christ and Ruth Constantine Address Staff
Council regarding recent budget announcements
Pres. Christ began by giving some
background for her financial equilibrium proposal that was released
on Jan. 29th. She said that determining this plan was the result
of many months of discussion by several groups including senior
staff, the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA), the
Committee on Mission and Priorities (CMP) and the Campus-wide Organizational
Effectiveness Analyses (OEA). The purpose of all of these efforts
was to look for ways to reduce, reorganize or even expand throughout
the College with the intent of creating efficiencies while maintaining
a high level of service. Pres. Christ's ultimate goal was to create
a zero-balance budget for the College. While prioritizing this goal,
the plan also includes funding for:
- competitive salary increases for faculty and staff
- additional funding for renewal and replacement
- bond issues that may be needed for the Science and Engineering
- unintended and emergent needs (as yet unidentified)
All of these goals still have to fit into a budget that reflects
the over-riding College priorities of access and affordability and
a very high quality of education.
Financial aid also continues to be a priority with the goal to meet
the demonstrated need of all applicants. However, additional emphasis
may be placed on increasing loans slightly rather than grants and
the college will seek to balance low and high need students in admitted
The budget is affected by:
- increasing funding to the renewal and replacement fund
- changing the take-out rate in order to smooth the highs and
lows caused by variations in the economy
- retaining some Advancement campaign positions in order to maintain
a goal of $45 million in fundraising yearly.
Reductions in non-faculty staffing
levels will equal 8.6%, which is a total of 81.5 FTEs. Through the
enhanced severance plan, elimination of vacant positions, and lay-offs
that have already occurred, we have achieved about half of this
reduction. The proposed plan involves the elimination of 37.2 additional
FTE, affecting 54 positions. The12 banked positions which will become
available later this year when the reductions are finalized. The
proposed reductions cut across college operations from 5.3% from
academic programs, 6.1% from student services and 12% from administrative
services. Faculty reductions amount to 25 positions over the next
five years and are expected to occur mostly through the early retirement
program. Of all these reductions, those affecting dining services
are the most controversial. ACRA and CMP are still actively discussing
the proposal. At this point Pres. Christ anticipates that the final
decisions will be made at the May trustees meeting. However, at
the February meeting of the trustees the following will be decided:
- the take-out rate from the endowment for 2004-5
- the staff and faculty salary pool increase
- the comprehensive fees for 2004-5 and
- a probable vote of the Science & Engineering building
Whatever plan is adopted, Pres. Christ
emphasized that she is committed to creating a balanced budget.
If any reduction is dropped from her plan it will have to be replaced
by a comparable reduction elsewhere. She also stated that she is
eager to meet with staff to discuss the budget proposal and its
implications. She thinks small groups such as departments or areas
are more productive than all campus meetings. Please contact her
office if you are interested in meeting with her.
President Christ then opened the meeting to questions from the floor:
1. When will departments have final
budgets - February or May?
In May, for sure, but there will be strong indicators even in February
especially if there is a particular need to know early in a given
2. When the FTE cuts occur, what is
the time frame?
These position cuts will be announced shortly after the May trustees'
meeting with the anticipated time of termination being sometime
in July or August. Smith policy requires at least one-month notice
in cases of layoff but a longer period is probable.
3. Since the number of positions to
be cut has been cited specifically at 54, should we think that specific
positions have already been targeted?
Yes and no. Making the assumption that the Dining Committee report
will be accepted, certain positions are already determined. Within
other departments, there will be continuing discussion about restructuring.
Pres. Christ clarified that these are positions not people that
are being eliminated. It is their hope that many of the people will
be able to stay on at Smith in other positions such as those that
are banked - or possibly in ones that have been reduced from 12
month to 9-month terms. And she reiterated that this is still a
4. How many dining people will be affected?
Fifteen positions will be reduced or eliminated. Pres. Christ reminded
everyone that the complete Dining Committee report is available
on the Web http://www.smith.edu/dining/intro.php
5 . Are dining positions part of the
54 positions to be eliminated?
Yes. At this point Ruth Constantine re-emphasized that part of this
budget proposal includes allocating more money to the renewal and
replacement fund in order to get the college "out from behind
the eight ball" and more in control of physical plant needs.
In order to do this, the budget plan includes higher-level cuts
than is typical. Carol Christ cited big future projects for which
money needs to be saved such as the heating system at the Campus
School, classrooms in McConnell and storage needs in the college
library. Ruth said that the current rate of money set aside annually
for maintenance is $4-5 million. And though there are clearly many
large projects that need to be planned for through the budget, Ruth
emphasized that the campus is in better shape that 10 years ago.
But the current level of saving is not sufficient to accomplish
known projects, and this budget would provide adequate funding to
complete such tasks. Pres. Christ said this proposal is intended
to end the "roller coaster" budgets of the past, which
have tended to be set at a "high water mark" rather than
a more sustainable level. This zero budget proposal will eliminate
Smith's $3-million debt. She also stressed that some of the changes
will be phased in over time even though they are written into the
budget plan for this year. It is her goal to devise a budget plan
that minimizes dramatic effects of the volatility of the economy
but also maintains a very high standard for the academic program.
6. At the time of the layoff in May,
will there be another early retirement package offered?
Ruth Constantine said that in 1991 there were such packages offered
but now the college is not so heavily staffed, so certain specific
areas were targeted where attrition was needed. These were offered
last spring to workers in physical plant, the botanical gardens
and to dining staff. So another early retirement package is unlikely
but there may be an enhanced severance package. When asked, she
said that these packages will be paid for out of "savings realized"
due to the cuts rather than out of the endowment as it had been
in the early 90's. Pres. Christ said that cuts in physical plant
and dining services were made in part because Smith had higher ratios
of employment in these areas than did their peer institutions.
7. The Handbook does state a policy
for layoffs that include a base payment and a certain number of
weeks extra pay based on length of service. Will this layoff payment
be increased beyond the standard?
Ruth Constantine said this may be the case but she also reminded
the audience that banked positions will be offered to those staff
members whose positions have been eliminated, so that they may not
need to be laid off.
8. Are departments giving their staff a "heads up" on
Pres. Christ said that since her plan is just a proposal it would
be wrong to announce decisions now. Therefore, she would rather
wait and make the announcement about all the positions simultaneously
after the final decisions have been made. Exceptions could be made
if there are some unique circumstances.
9. If your position is eliminated and you want another placement
at Smith, how long can you be considered an in-house placement?
HR is working on all of this including reapplication for employment,
severance, terms of taking new jobs, etc.
10. What are the procedures for job-matching
for those people whose positions have been eliminated? How will
this be handled?
Guidelines for this will be developed by HR. Ruth felt that those
laid off should have some kind of enhanced status to improve their
ability to seek these positions.
11. Would these banked positions become
available in May when the position cuts are announced?
Yes, and all of them will become available. Ruth said that some
3-way moves might develop as well which may mean that those banked
positions will be offered to all employees.
12. How does the severance payment
The weekly amount owed would come as a lump sum at the time of termination
and at that point the employee would become fully eligible for unemployment.
13. What if you return to Smith? Would
you loose that severance money?
Ruth said she was sure that that would be stated at the time of
14. Will the Internal mobility program
continue after May?
Carol said that she wanted feedback on the program but that she
expected it would continue. She thought it had been well received
and reminded us that the program existed before the budget problems
became evident and had value as a program beyond its utility in
15. Can staff in limited term positions
get severance packages?
No. These are not positions that will necessarily be eliminated
in May but rather at the previously agreed upon end date.
16. With the relatively high amount
of money in our endowment currently, why can't the take-out rate
be increased to tide the College over this period?
Pres. Christ said the problem is a larger, more permanent problem,
not really a shortfall, and that larger problem needs to be addressed.
Also, the endowment is not really like a savings account for a family.
Colleges are thought to be "intergenerational institutions"
with an anticipated lifespan that is much longer than that of a
family's personal account. As such, the trustees see themselves
as stewards of the college and its assets like the endowment. She
said there is a lot of interest now in "endowment methodologies"
which address how to manage and maintain endowments. She said that
at least 70% of higher educational institutions, including Smith,
have followed the model where the take-out is 5.25% of the average
of 3 years of the market value of the endowment. Most institutions
are now rethinking this model. A suggestion under consideration
is one that bases the next year's budget amount on the previous
year's dollar amount plus 4%. This figure would also have to maintain
a certain relation to the budget that would act as a cap.
The meeting ended at noon as the room
was scheduled for another group.
- Committee Reports: tabled until the February 19th meeting
- Old Business: also tabled
- New Business: also tabled
Submitted by Nancy Brady, co-secretary