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Author Topic: Institutional Responses to Economic Crisis: Suuuuurvey Says?!  (Read 7221 times)
emerson_scholar
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« on: February 18, 2009, 10:13:17 am »

Dear Forumites,

I have read many, many descriptions of what you all are seeing at your respective institutions with respect to the economic crisis. Unfortunately these descriptions are scattered across threads and boards. Given the wealth of knowledge assembled here, it seems that we have a great opportunity to build up a composite picture of how different institutions are approaching "these times". I know, I know, these are mere anecdotes, but I think they can be useful nonetheless, as long as they are collected together. More importantly, I think we need to get a better sense of what other institutions are doing so that we can wrestle with our own local experiences in context. I am posting this here because, ultimately, this affects current job-seekers the most, and has the potential to send many of us back on the market...

Can anybody and everybody chime in with what they know: what their own position is (optional), what sort of institution they represent, what that institution is definitely doing, and what the rumor mill on campus is grinding about?

I'll start off:

T-T Humanities
Semi-Elite Private SLAC ("top 40")
Definitely:
1) Salary freeze for next year, and probably year after that.
2) Travel budgets for staff severely curtailed, travel for faculty much less generous
3) Department budgets asked to trim 10%
4) Freeze on adjunct and visiting hires for next year, no leave replacement hires
5) Start-up packages for new T-T hires much reduced from past years
Rumor-mill has it:
A) Junior T-T faculty in "smaller" departments (=Humanities) will be cut at mid-stream review
B) Staff (Library, etc.) will be trimmed

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donstefano
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2009, 11:54:13 am »

T - social sciences
good European uni, research oriented
1) no salary freezes, no travel budget limitations
2) received new funds to hire one new full prof
3) busily recruitting 2 new junior faculty, and happy finally being able to compete against other employers

Never had it so good
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mintyfresh
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2009, 12:20:47 pm »

TT Humanities
Compass Point State University

Definitely:
Salary freezes for faculty and staff for the next two years.
No travel or research funds for faculty.
Departments trimming budgets by 8-20%; dean decides the amount.
Hiring freeze; adjunct and visiting lines getting dumped.
Faculty who started this year didn't get start-up funds (in the Humanities).
No more sabbaticals.
Electives in the disciplines are cut; only required classes for major/degree are being offered (with very, very few exceptions).
Health care plan getting trimmed--"boutique" services will no longer be offered or fully covered (i.e. certain dental services, standard visits to dermatologists for skin-cancer checks, co-pays have gone up).
Library already took a huge budget cut.
"Redundancy" of staff and office machines "will be dealt with".
No more office supplies--not even paper or toner.  Forget about pens and paper clips.
No more long distance phone calls from office phones.
Enrollment caps raised on all classes.

Rumored:
Course load will be increased to 4/4 and possibly higher.
Folks going up for mid-tenure review and tenure in the next two years probably won't make it as a way to reduce faculty costs.

It's really, really, really bad and scary.
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chomp96
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2009, 12:38:27 pm »

TT Sciences
Moderately selective LAC (Top 100)

1) Only 75% of open staff positions are being filled
2) Only 75% of sabbatical leaves are being replaced with VAPs
3) Salary pool increase uncertain (maybe not a freeze, but a smaller increase)
4) Deferring re-models, just focusing on necessary maintenance
5) Closing one of the two dining halls
6) Changes to student housing fee structure (resulting in a net increase in revenue)
7) Perhaps cutting loose money-losing affiliated organizations associated with the institution
8) Busting our tails to improve freshman-to-sophomore retention

All in all, we're very fortunate, to this point.
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econmom
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Posts: 21


« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2009, 2:04:36 pm »

T-Social Sciences
public comprehensive

(1) supply budget slashed 30% (officially, but all purchases need approval, so really it is worse)
(2) all sabbaticals postponed for 2009-10
(3) pre-approved faculty travel only, likely cut next year
(4) adjunct lay-offs, with many sections cancelled
(5) faculty have contractually raises of 3% annually for the next 3 years
(6) some faculty have been asked to give up release time and teach more

Likely for next year:  no travel, full-timers replaced with adjuncts, secretarial cuts, cuts to voice mail....
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inthelab
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2009, 2:30:07 pm »


Likely for next year:  no travel, full-timers replaced with adjuncts, secretarial cuts, cuts to voice mail....

How do you cut voice mail?  I mean, it's part of the phone service to your phone line.
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bookishone
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2009, 2:32:51 pm »

It might be easier to compare notes if this were in the form of a poll. And then we could also respond without outing ourselves.
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mended_drum
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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2009, 6:49:28 pm »

Tenured, moderately selective LAC

1. Faculty raises reduced
2. Most departments asked to come in under budget (all have done so)
3. 2 job searches delayed for one year
4. Several building projects delayed

No real rumors.  Our deposits from next year's class are up significantly from the year before, so that even with the hit our endowment took, as a private, tuition-dependent institution, we're doing fairly well.  No furloughs, no program eliminations.

Yet.
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temporaryname
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2009, 7:05:19 pm »

Likely for next year:  no travel, full-timers replaced with adjuncts, secretarial cuts, cuts to voice mail....
How do you cut voice mail?  I mean, it's part of the phone service to your phone line.
My office phone doesn't have voice mail any more--it was cut as a cost-saving measure. Voice mail comes standard with many phone plans, but apparently not at my university.
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timurid
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2009, 9:19:38 pm »

ABD PhD student
Humanities
R1 State school

The department has been told to prepare for a cut to its total budget of at least 8% and perhaps more.
That would mean a total reduction of $300,000 or higher.
Possible cost saving measures include:

-Canceled searches (one is already gone)
-Travel allowances cut
-Supply budget cut
-Layoffs of administrative staff and/or VAP's/lecturers
-Cutting postdoc/senior fellow programs
-Removing telephone and/or internet access from many offices
-Canceling department newsletters, publications and conferences
And, most relevant to my interests:

-Culling an undetermined number of ABD grad students. According to existing policy, there is no guaranteed funding after five years, but there has been a gentleman's agreement in place for some time to provide sixth and even seventh years to anyone who needed them. (Average time to PhD in this department is ~7.5 years.)The policy is being re-written so that anyone wishing to stay after five years will have to submit an application to do so. When and if good times return, this may become a rubber stamp process... but for the duration of the crisis, the chair has made it very clear that this will be a very competitive process akin to a third-party fellowship contest. The application form to be used for this process is still being drafted and is itself a subject of heated debate. Affected grad students are demanding the right to use every weapon available to protect themselves, so the proposed document is growing more and more complex, potentially including everything from teaching evaluations to transcripts, (graduate and undergraduate even?) language skills, service, horoscopes, etc. The competition has all indications of becoming a real circus, especially considering the stakes involved. While nobody will commit to a precise number, the suggestion is that losers may outnumber winners... and nothing has been left to the imagination about the consequences for those losers. The plan is for the department to essentially sever all ties with them, not just jobs and stipends but also tuition waivers, insurance and other benefits and possibly even perks like library access. They will still be welcome to show up and defend a dissertation at a later date... as long as they are able to pay a full semester's tuition and fees out of pocket. All of this in the midst of the worst job market... academic or otherwise... in a generation.
This news has come as quite a shock in a department that has prided itself on its collegiality among grad students as well as staff and that has gone to some lengths to become the antithesis of notorious "gladiator school" programs that encourage open competition between students.

The chair has made it very clear that he is willing to make great sacrifices to shield tenured and tenure track staff from any real harm. As of now there are no plans to make significant cuts or extract concessions at their expense (i.e. layoffs, furloughs, increased loads, etc.).
Surprisingly, he also... despite considerable pressure from existing grad students and some faculty... wants to hold the line on incoming cohorts. Currently there is no plan to accept fewer new students, so that if push comes to shove, first years would be protected at the expense of ABD's. One reason that senior grad students make such a tempting target is that cutting them will technically only be an enforcement of existing policy... whereas cuts in other areas or rationing schemes like reducing stipends or alternating funded and unfunded semesters would require actual policy changes or other concessions made in writing. The fear is that when the crisis is over, the university/college/graduate school will not relinquish those concessions and that emergency measures will have become permanent ones...

One other note: This department rarely hires adjuncts, preferring to use senior grad students to teach survey classes. A reduction of those students has the same effect in the classroom as an adjunct reduction/layoff in other departments.
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shrek
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2009, 9:31:28 pm »

R1 University
Deans and top administrative (president, VPs and provost) positions have salary freeze for this year and probably next. There will be no raises for staff. Don't know yet whether faculty salaries will be frozen, but I'd expect it.
At the same time, searches have gone forward, travel money and sabbaticals have not changed.
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aandsdean
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2009, 11:19:22 pm »

VPAA
Small private baccalaureate college

Salaries may be frozen but we aren't sure yet
Selective canceling of searches/leaving some positions empty
Not funding sabbatical replacements
Deferral of capital projects
Selective deferral of noncritical maintenance and repair
Reductions in "nonessential travel" (of which there's almost none)--faculty travel and development protected so far
Some reductions in equipment expenditures (frozen as of now except for contingency; contingency only next year)
Some restructuring of financial aid in hopes of reducing discount rate and slightly increasing enrollment
A few other things

We have a range of possible reductions ranging from around 5% (on the order of $2 million) of our total budget to about 8.5%, depending on new-student enrollment, retention, and financial aid considerations.  The 5% we can do with little problem though it is likely to eliminate raises for the first time in many years.  8.5% would be a lot larger problem, but even that would probably not necessitate any RIF, though we might use furloughs.  But we can't really know what we'll actually need to do until we have a clearer idea of enrollment for the fall.  Our budgeting targets are extremely conservative and so we're somewhat protected--we didn't start from highly optimistic projections for enrollment before the crisis hit, so we didn't have big dreams to kill before we got down to the practicalities of how to manage through the next couple of years.

The big problem will be the continued ramp-down of spendable endowment earnings over the next three years as this very bad year works its way through the 3-year trailing average.  It will be even worse if we continue to have very weak market performance over the next several years.

I'll say it before and I'll say it again:  40 small private colleges will fold in the next two years.
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msparticularity
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Assistant Professor cum bricoleur


« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2009, 11:28:18 pm »


-Culling an undetermined number of ABD grad students. According to existing policy, there is no guaranteed funding after five years, but there has been a gentleman's agreement in place for some time to provide sixth and even seventh years to anyone who needed them. (Average time to PhD in this department is ~7.5 years.)The policy is being re-written so that anyone wishing to stay after five years will have to submit an application to do so. When and if good times return, this may become a rubber stamp process... but for the duration of the crisis, the chair has made it very clear that this will be a very competitive process akin to a third-party fellowship contest. The application form to be used for this process is still being drafted and is itself a subject of heated debate.

Timurid, I'm hearing from some of my students that they are being offered only a three-year financial package on admission to PhD programs in the humanities. While I agree that what you are facing is pretty harsh given the lack of any advance notice, I do think it may be in the interests of departments to examine their PhD students' trajectory. Sure, it used to be fairly normal to spend 6-8 years on a PhD, but on any number of levels this is not entirely defensible for the department nor for the students. Still, the faculty has to also take responsibility for allowing its students to wander along for years on end.

On the question of cuts, we're being told to expect the following:

-A massive reduction on OTS (other than salary), including everything from travel to supplies

-A reduction on salary, including potential reductions in term faculty slots

-Deferral (at least) on all raises, including cost-of-living

-Scrutiny of all hires to determine how essential they are to departmental and college-level functioning
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inthelab
Where beloved molecules abide
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2009, 10:52:30 am »

Likely for next year:  no travel, full-timers replaced with adjuncts, secretarial cuts, cuts to voice mail....
How do you cut voice mail?  I mean, it's part of the phone service to your phone line.
My office phone doesn't have voice mail any more--it was cut as a cost-saving measure. Voice mail comes standard with many phone plans, but apparently not at my university.
I wonder if anyone at your U has voice mail then.  Our plan includes it for everyone.
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mozman
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Posts: 1,733


« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2009, 11:02:13 am »

Private R1 medical school.

All searches canceled.

All staff hires frozen.

All admin, staff and faculty salaries frozen.

I a still trying to get an answer as to whether I will get a raise this year.  My salary is paid from grants, and I HAVE BUDGETED for raises.  If I don't get them, I will be seriously pissed off.

mm
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