Campus News

Bowdoin College to Reduce Staff; Strengthen Priorities

Story posted January 22, 2003

January 22, 2003

Bowdoin College announced today that it would be reducing its administrative and support staff by the equivalent of approximately 25-30 full-time positions as part of a college-wide effort to reduce costs and strengthen priorities in a down economy.

In a letter to employees delivered on Wednesday, President Barry Mills noted that while Bowdoin's finances are fundamentally sound and well-managed, reduced income from the college's $430 million endowment coupled with increased healthcare, utility, insurance and other costs, requires Bowdoin to eliminate or consolidate some administrative functions.

Fund raising at the college remains strong and on target for the first six months of the current fiscal year, but despite a recent return on investments exceeding that of nearly all of its peers, Bowdoin is still earning much less from its endowment than it needs for current operations. Income from Bowdoin's endowment accounts for approximately 22 percent of the College's annual operating revenues.

"I remain convinced that everything we do at Bowdoin today - whether it's in our classrooms, laboratories or performance spaces, on the playing fields or in administrative offices...whether it's by groundskeepers, dining service staff, librarians, secretaries or technicians - is done for good reason and with excellence by hard working and dedicated people," said Mills. "In a stronger economy and with sufficient resources, we would do everything we're doing today at Bowdoin, and more. Unfortunately, the only prudent course under current circumstances is for us to hold the line on new expenses and to cut back on some activities."

In his letter to employees, Mills underscored previously stated priorities for the College as a "...commitment to the academic program, continued access to a Bowdoin education regardless of income or background, and preservation of Bowdoin's strong sense of community and mutual respect." The academic program will not be affected significantly by budget cutbacks, nor will faculty positions be reduced as part of the anticipated layoffs. The College's proposed FY 2003-04 budget of approximately $106 million includes a five percent increase in Bowdoin's comprehensive fee, increases for Bowdoin's financial aid program, including a continued commitment to "need blind" admissions whereby qualified students are admitted without regard to the ability to pay Bowdoin's comprehensive fee. In addition, the budget allows the College to move forward with plans to hire new faculty and to compensate faculty at a level that is competitive with peer institutions. The budget also provides a modest wage increase for administrative and support staff and adjustments to meet market competition for some positions. The proposed budget will be presented to the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees in early February.

Bowdoin's administration grew by 101 full-time equivalent positions between November 1999 and November 2002. By reducing the size of its administrative and support staff now, the College believes it can focus on institutional priorities while avoiding future layoffs. Eligible employees who do lose their jobs will receive eight weeks of severance pay plus one additional week of pay for each year of service up to 26 weeks of pay. The College will also provide affected employees with job counseling and an amount equal to the cost of two months of health and dental insurance.

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