Dear Thayer Colleagues:
Yesterday, Provost Helble and Executive Vice President Mills announced major steps that Dartmouth is taking to tackle the enormous financial challenges in the months ahead. It goes without saying that these are extraordinary times of uncertainty, and I know that there are profound concerns within our community about what this means for each of us and our work at Thayer.
I want to follow-up with some cautious reassurance and share some initial thoughts for our road ahead.
While we cannot predict the full extent of the economic impact, Thayer is fortunate to have built healthy reserves in recent years given our focus on planning for our expansion. Some of these funds will be used to help address the financial challenges ahead. For the near-term, this allows Thayer to preserve current staffing levels and positions, as we continue to support mission-critical academic and research programs. Although Dartmouth is placing a university-wide staff hiring freeze, we will be able to move forward with new staff hires whose positions fully support research and are funded by research grants or start-up funds.
In addition, Thayer will continue to implement our plans for expansion, albeit at a slower pace than originally expected. The faculty searches launched this year will continue until positions are filled, and we expect further guidance on next year’s faculty searches in July. We will proceed with developing, discussing, and then finalizing our 3-year faculty hiring plan this year.
At the same time, as we look for additional ways to make up for the anticipated loss of revenue, it will be critical for Thayer to continue good stewardship of our financial resources. As noted in Dartmouth’s announcement, we will soon receive additional guidance around reductions to non-compensation expenses. In the weeks ahead, we will lean on the creativity, insight, and innovation of our Thayer managers, our associate and assistant deans, and academic directors to inform our decisions.
I fully appreciate that the steps we are taking are significant, and the road ahead will not always be easy. Until we are able to comprehend the full financial impact of COVID-19, I believe these actions are essential to ensuring Dartmouth and Thayer’s ability to address the operating budget deficit while supporting the work of Thayer staff and faculty to deliver the world-class education that our students deserve.
Thank you for your commitment to our shared purpose, your focus on our mission, and your hard work and accomplishments, particularly over the past several weeks. In the past month, as we faced many unknowns amid an ever-evolving health crisis, I witnessed some of the brightest moments and inspiring work from our faculty and staff across Thayer. Because of this, I remain confident in our community’s strength, our ability to adapt and innovate, and our capacity to rise up and support each other through these challenging times. We do not have all the answers today, but I hope to maintain an open dialogue with you in the days ahead.