Reply to Smith AAUP Letter, May 21, 2020
Dear Smith College AAUP members:
Thank you for your letter of May 14, 2020. We agree that Smith must approach its planning around COVID-19 from an ethic of care perspective. Toward that end, we have been communicating honestly and transparently about the difficult choices the college faces during the pandemic. For our part, we are doing our best, amid heart-breaking choices, to minimize the impact of this pandemic on our faculty and staff colleagues. We hope the May 20 letter from the President and VP for Finance and Administration makes clear why the endowment can mitigate our financial challenges but not eliminate them.
We are making financial decisions using our existing governance structures, as outlined in the Faculty Code and the bylaws of the Board of Trustees. In your letter, you suggest new ways for faculty to contribute to decision-making. We suggest you bring these suggestions to Faculty Council because it is their responsibility to bring governance proposals to the faculty for discussion.
We do want to correct two misperceptions in your letter. First, there have been only two occasions in the past 12 years -- not three, as stated in your letter -- when Smith faculty members have had no salary increase, specifically, 2009-2010 and 2020-2021. Further, to our knowledge, no college or university is planning salary increases for the coming fiscal year. Second, it is not the case that, “the size of the full-time faculty has remained constant or decreased” during the last decade. Over the past seven years, the president has added 6.5 FTEs to the faculty. These are the Tammis Day chair in poetry (search beginning), the Ruth Simmons chair (search ongoing), the Ketcham chair in Middle East Studies, two new lines in Statistical and Data Sciences, 1 FTE in Engineering and .5 FTE in English. In every search, we continue to forefront the imperative to diversify the faculty; we have made progress but we need to continue to make this a priority.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Smith’s AAUP members. Like you, we are committed to working together to realize an ethic of care.