Facing the Financial Crisis at Brown
By President Ruth J. Simmons, Brown University
It has been some time since I wrote about the anticipated effects of the global financial crisis on the University. Since then, the crisis has expanded and deepened, bringing extraordinary upheaval throughout many for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. At Brown, upon the close of the 2008 year, we learned more about the apparent effect of significant credit, liquidity and revenue constraints on our near-term planning. That information has led us to plan the implementation of a number of measures to reduce expenditures, constrain expansion, and limit major new obligations until we see a return to robust growth in revenue.
We will act in accord with our values as a community; we will focus on preserving the quality of our academic life; and we will continue to protect our capacity to support our financial aid program. Finally, even during these perilous moments, to the extent possible, we will make selected investments in opportunities to improve the quality of our academic programs. While we have stepped up our travel and fund-raising efforts in an attempt to mitigate this result, we must nevertheless prepare for the possibility of a reduced number of donors and smaller gifts.
In our own world of higher education, major universities have canceled faculty searches, undertaken layoffs, announced flat or reduced salaries for faculty and staff in FY10, cancelled capital projects, and instituted broad cuts in operating budgets. We, too, must take account of the all-too-real constraints imposed by this crisis.
Our plans include a tuition increase below that projected in the Five Year Budget Plan; no salary increases for essentially all faculty and staff; and a reduction of $4.5M in the overall budget for administration. This will require both reductions in the number of positions in most units and reductions in operating expenses in essentially all of them.