moneyThe New Reality

Schools adjust to hard times

Vol. 11 No. 5
April 2009

Return to Contents

The New Reality
Emory faculty respond to a transformed economic world

Schools adjust to hard times

“To suddenly have to do a complete, 180-degree about-face and think about where we can slow down, where we can cut, and constricting ourselves while trying to maintain some of our momentum and simultaneously go in the opposite direction—that's quite disconcerting.”

We are very stretched in a number of important areas. Our challenge is to find the right balance between reductions in staffing versus reductions in the collections.”

Conflict of Interest and Ensuring the Public Trust
Historical perspectives and current concerns

Hearing the Music
A composer considers audience response

Making Love to the World
The practices that sustain research


Throughout the world of higher education, institutions are making major adjustments to cope with a bleak economic landscape. Here are a few examples.

  • Brandeis University in Massachusetts decided to sell off the collection from its Rose Art Museum. The school faces a current budget shortfall estimated at $10 million. The museum, founded in 1961, holds more than 8,000 pieces, including works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. The collection is considered one of the most important of postwar art in New England and has an estimated value of more than $350 million. The outcry following the announcement eventually led the school’s president, Jehuda Reinharz, to reconsider. In an e-mail to the Brandeis community, he wrote that the museum would stay open, but it “will be more fully integrated into the university’s central educational mission.” He wrote also that the university would retain the right to sell works from the collection. Brandeis has also announced a hiring freeze and is considering an overhaul of academic programs.

  • Harvard, whose endowment value declined by more than $8 billion in the last months of 2008, said it would review plans for a four-building, $1-billion science center in Boston’s Allston neighborhood across the river from its Cambridge campus. The university also announced a 3.5 percent increase in tuition, room, board, and fees for the next academic year, which will bring the cost to $48,868. It has also started offering voluntary retirement incentives in order to prevent having to layoff faculty.

  • Dartmouth has reportedly launched a similar plan, offering six months of pay to employees following their retirement. Staff over age 55 with at least 10 years of continuous service, some 600 employees, are eligible.

  • Tufts University, projecting a 25-percent drop in the value of its $1.4 billion endowment (plus a $20 million loss from the Bernie Madoff fraud), may abandon its policy, in some cases, of admitting all students without regard to their ability to pay. It has also suspended capital improvement projects.
  • The University of Florida eliminated 430 faculty and staff positions and must cut next year’s budget by 10 percent, probably requiring more layoffs. Arizona State University is ending contracts with as many as 200 adjunct instructors.

For a summary of what other schools are doing, visit