Local summer program budgets trimmed marginally

In light of current calls across campus for financial conservatism, some of the numerous summer programs that take place at the College are being tailored to make them more economically viable. Campus summer employment will decrease, while research will continue unhindered. The Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) will remain unchanged by the economic downturn, while the Williams Theatre Lab is downsizing.

The number of available jobs in many departments will decrease for this summer, according to Jim Kolesar, director of Public Affairs. “Across the board, offices are being asked to cut their spending on summer student employment by one-third,” Kolesar said, adding that offices have the option of appealing to the Provost’s office for additional funding for student employment.

The College typically employs a large number of students on campus over the summer, in departments such as the Office of Public Affairs, Facilities and the libraries, among others. Some summer employees come from the surrounding community, while others are College students. Kolesar made clear that students from the College will have the first opportunities for the jobs that will remain. “We are going to focus on employing Williams students, with preference given to those on financial aid,” he said.

In addition to the students employed in various offices for the summer, many undergraduates remain on campus to participate in research for academic departments. The financial constraints will not affect these numbers, as research programs are retaining their funding, according to Kolesar.
There are typically around 150 students who stay on campus each summer to work with professors in the College’s Summer Research Program in Div. III. In addition, the Class of 1957 Summer Research Program, which sponsors research in humanities fields, began in 1997. Last summer, the program had 28 participants, one-third of whom worked in the economics department.

“Research is very important training for a future as a scientist – Williams has long been the national leader in summer research for undergraduates,” said Sarah Bolton, chair of the physics department. “[The College] has been careful to maintain the support for summer research students with no cuts.”

The performing arts will continue on campus this summer as well. The Summer Theatre Lab, run by the theater department, connects between eight and 12 students with guest artists and alumni working in theater, according to Robert Baker-White, chair of the theater department. Lab participants put on public performances in the CenterStage over the course of the summer.

The Theatre Lab will face small shifts due to budget issues. “The Summer Lab will continue this summer without what I would call major changes, although the budget restrictions that are taking place across campus will have an impact on our operations,” Baker-White said. Stipends will still be given to participating students, but “the total Lab budget for next year has limited the number of students who will be able to participate,” he said, although he did not specify the extent to which participation will be limited.

Arguably the cornerstone Williamstown summer event, WTF, a 50-year-old institution, will continue to be in residence at the ’62 Center this summer. “The financial crisis hasn’t affected WTF yet, and I don’t know that it ever will,” Kolesar said.

WTF brings around 200 participants to Williamstown each summer, and is the oldest summer conference on campus. This year, its productions will include Children, True West, The Torch-Bearers and Quartermaine’s Terms on the MainStage, and Knickerbocker, What Is The Cause Of Thunder? and Caroline In Jersey on the Nikos Stage.

“The summer conferences were started so that the college could provide year-round employment to people other than faculty,” Kolesar said, adding that year-round employment helps bring a diverse and talented population to the Williamstown community.