Reinstatement of Faculty and Staff Compensation (January 19, 2021)

To Bowdoin faculty and staff,

I am writing today with good news: the compensation sacrifices that we asked of you at the start of the academic year will end this month.

As of February 1, all salaried faculty and staff who were eligible for a raise in July will have their salaries raised by 3 percent. Hourly staff who received at least a 3 percent raise in wages as of July 1, 2020, will not have their wages raised again but will receive a one-time bonus. Those hourly staff who received less than a 3 percent raise last July will have their salaries raised to the 3 percent level and will also receive a bonus. In addition, the College’s full contribution to employee retirement accounts will be restored. More details on the compensation changes can be found here.

Why are we able to do this now? As I am sure you recall, the decision taken in the summer to limit the number of students on campus while continuing to employ everyone meant that we were looking at a challenging financial picture. In addition, well into the opening of school in the fall, there was significant uncertainty about a number of things, including how long the pandemic would last, the prospects for the financial markets, our enrollment numbers, and our pandemic-related costs.

I am pleased to report that we are in better financial shape than we had expected, in large measure because of higher-than-projected enrollments for the fall and spring semesters. Lower expenses also play a part in this result. In addition, uncertainties about the length of the pandemic, the stability of the financial markets, and our costs in managing COVID-19 have, to a great extent, been resolved. Now, just to be clear, we will still run the largest deficit in the College’s history, but it is now at a level—and with acceptable uncertainties—that the College will assume the burden for the remainder of this academic year. The College’s board of trustees approved a new budget yesterday with a projected deficit of just under $11 million, and unanimously supported the action on compensation.

It is worth noting that we have been able to achieve this result while maintaining our comprehensive fee at the 2019–2020 level and while spending significantly more on financial aid and other financial assistance to help students and families at a very difficult time. In addition, the student responses to course evaluations from the fall show a quantitative level of satisfaction that is equivalent to prior years, and the qualitative comments indicate a successful teaching and learning experience in both our in-person and online courses (with greater than 80 percent of students responding). Of course, not everything went as hoped for, and students and faculty alike wished they could have interacted together in our customary in-person fashion, but the results are quite good.

I am very grateful to each of you for the sacrifices that you have made during this very difficult period—those related to your compensation and the many others. I also want to repeat my thanks to the faculty, staff, and student members of the Budget Review Group, led by Professor Ta Herrera, who provided ideas, insights, and questions to Matt Orlando, Jamie Tatham, and me as we worked to shape the budget last June.

If you have any questions about the changes in your compensation, please contact human resources.

Again, thank you for everything you have done and are doing to provide an outstanding education to our students under such difficult circumstances and for taking care of one another.

All the best,

Clayton