Ad hoc committee forms to advise on budget issues

Senior staff has formed an ad hoc committee to advise the College on budget restraints, a committee comprised of students, faculty and administrators. The group, which had the first of its weekly meetings last night, aims to determine what should be cut from the budget and what should be retained.

“Our group of senior staff in Hopkins has been working overtime on budget issues,” President Schapiro said, “and it will be great to share our progress and ongoing challenges with such an illustrious group.”
Members of the committee include senior staff, faculty members and students. Keith Finan, associate provost of the College, serves as secretary to the Committee, and other members range from professors to administrators. Mike Tcheyan ’10 and Lizzy Brickley ’10, College Council (CC) co-presidents, serve as student members of the Committee alongside former CC co-presidents Jeremy Goldstein ’09 and Peter Nurnberg ’09.

One member of the Committee is Ralph Bradburd, professor of political economy. “The committee is going to be looking at our spending plans under different assumptions regarding our budget, such as how the endowment performs, and think about what we will cut under various contingencies if we have to,” he said.

Cuts to the budget are fairly substantive, and the College will be experiencing several changes in the upcoming year as a result. “As much as you want to protect students from the economy, students will unfortunately still feel the pain a bit. But our job involves preserving what makes Williams, Williams regardless of the new diminished budget,” Brickley said. Bradburd added, “I’m not sure positive is the right word [to describe the current community sentiment about the economy], but people recognize that we may well be entering an era of greater resource scarcity, and there may be no alternative but to make some adjustments.” Tcheyan and Brickley mentioned that there might be some activities removed from the First Days schedule, but decisions regarding specific cuts have not yet been made.

“[The Committee is] a place where a number of people can come together with different areas of expertise regarding the College and talk about the very tough decisions that we may have to make,” Bradburd said. “I hope that when we make the decisions, that they will be well-considered and, most importantly, that we’ll have the understanding of the community.”

One issue that the new CC presidents stressed was that they want the students to take a stake in these budget cuts by giving their input on what aspects of the College should be funded as before. “We aren’t qualified to talk about all the student special interest groups, and we need representatives who can talk about their respective groups,” Brickley said.

Schapiro added, “My hope is that the ad-hoc committee will generate many ideas on what to do under different financial scenarios and that those ideas will help the senior staff figure out the best way to move forward.”