College to cut summer jobs, student research not affected

The beautiful weather, the relaxed atmosphere, the ice cream from Lickety Split – students enjoy spending summers in Williamstown for numerous reasons, and last year, the College spent $1.2 million on giving them the opportunity to do so, according to Jim Kolesar, director of Public Affairs. However, spending cuts will prevent several students from remaining on campus this summer. The College has requested that offices across campus reduce by one-third the amount of money they will spend on student summer jobs, and focus on hiring only Williams students, with a preference for financial aid recipients, according to Kolesar. “Some offices and departments may reduce this spending further or even eliminate it to help them meet the 15 percent reduction in managers’ budgets that virtually all offices have had to target for the coming year,” Kolesar said. However, these reductions will not affect the number of students engaging in summer research.

Students will have more difficulty attaining jobs such as librarian assistants and museum curator interns, which fall into this category of budget cuts. “Last summer, we hired 18 full-time student positions to work in Sawyer, Schow and the archives,” said Sue Galli, a library administrator. “This summer, we could hire only 11.” According to Kolesar, the College attempted to distribute these cuts evenly across departments and adopted creative tactics in order to be as fair as possible, such as allowing two departments to share one student.

However, one student cannot accomplish as much as two, and Galli predicts that the decreased number of student employees will both diminish the amount of work that will be done and augment the workload of library staff members. “We look to do some special projects in the summer and this summer, [many of them] will have to be deferred to the fall,” she said. “The staff will have to contribute to the [student employees’] workload.” Additionally, she noted that the cuts mean that more students are still looking for a way to earn money this summer. “There’s still a significant amount of students looking for employment and we’re not able to help them,” she said.

Likewise, fewer students will have the opportunity to be museum interns this summer. “[WCMA] is responding to financial strains by reducing the total number of interns that it will hire this summer from 10 to eight,” said John Stomberg, deputy director of WCMA. However, this reduction in numbers will not engender a change in job description. “The experience for those hired will be the same intensive, stimulating work that has always characterized a WCMA internship,” Stomberg said.

He noted that the internships are important not only because of the work the students accomplish over the summer, but also because it provides valuable experience for those interested in attaining a career in an art sector. “Traditionally, many of our interns go on to enjoy great careers in the museum field; it is essential that we provide that entry into the field as fairly as possible,” Stomberg said. “In this way, our internship program does its part to maintain the broader goals of the College in terms of the opportunities it offers.”

These budget cuts exclude summer research and academic-related positions, including teaching assistants in the summer science program. This summer, approximately 180 students will do research in sciences and humanities departments combined, according to Kate Fletcher, departmental administrative assistant at the Science Center. “So far, the economic crisis has not affected the amount or type of research,” said Chip Lovett, professor of chemistry and director of the Science Center, who oversees Division III research. “It seems unlikely that the research this summer will be affected because most faculty already have the supplies and equipment they will need.”

Funding for summer research in the humanities departments has actually increased for this summer. “Our spending this summer, on student stipends and housing, will be nearly $110,000. This amount is more than we’ve ever committed before,” said John Gerry, assistant dean of the faculty, who oversees summer research programs for Divisions I and II. “At the moment, the number of faculty-student pairings stands at 28. In contrast, during the summers of 2004-2007, we typically had just 21 to 23 research assistantships active. We are very pleased that the demand is growing,” he said. A gift from the Class of 1957, other endowments that provide funding for specific topics and funds from the dean of faculty’s budget are helping to make this increase possible.

Additionally, Gerry noted that the economic crisis does not seem to have impacted the content of the research project proposals. “Faculty from the Department of Economics have always made good use of this program, but they are not necessarily refocusing their research due to current market conditions,” he said. “Likewise, faculty – are pursuing a wide variety of topics ranging from Shakespeare to ancient Chinese thought to Mesoamerican ceramic typology.”