October 21, 2019 | Office of the President

Message to the Campus Community (October 21, 2019)

To the Bowdoin community,

I am pleased to announce that the College plans to raise the minimum starting wage for benefits-eligible hourly employees to $17.00 an hour by July 1, 2022. This decision—discussed over the weekend with the board of trustees—is the result of excellent and comprehensive work by Matt Orlando and his team that included a regular review over the past several months of our compensation and benefits and an analysis of changing market conditions locally and in Maine.

This plan amounts to a 34 percent increase over our current minimum wage of $12.65 and a 55 percent increase over Maine’s current minimum wage of $11.00.

Our plan is to introduce this increase to $17.00 over the next thirty-two months, with the current $12.65 minimum wage increasing to $14.00 next July, to $15.50 in July 2021, and then to $17.00 in July 2022—roughly 10 percent each year.

As we increase these starting minimum wage rates, we will also increase wages and corresponding benefits for existing benefits-eligible hourly employees across the College in order to mitigate the impact of wage compression. The adjustments will be allocated progressively (with the lowest-paying jobs receiving the largest increases) and in ways that recognize responsibilities, job requirements, and performance.

Our plan to move to a starting wage of $17.00 reflects Bowdoin’s commitment to remaining a leader in wages and benefits in a new reality of record low unemployment and increasing competition for excellent employees. In particular, Bath Iron Works has announced plans to hire 1,000 workers next year in what is an extremely tight labor market. With our adjustments, we will continue to maintain our leadership position as an employer of choice in Maine.

This is the right thing to do for our employees, whose hard work is essential to making Bowdoin special. As I have said repeatedly, our employees come first, and as we begin in the coming weeks to formulate the budget for the next fiscal year, this was the place to start. In order to fund these wage increases we will need to find savings elsewhere in the budget.

I am grateful to Matt and his team, who have done so much to focus on our hourly colleagues and whose analysis and recommendations have guided this decision.

For more information about these planned wage increases, I encourage you to review the series of frequently asked questions posted here on the Bowdoin website. As noted in the past, we review our compensation program regularly and adjust the program when it is warranted. These planned increases reflect the reality of current conditions and underscore our deep appreciation for the many contributions of our hourly colleagues.