Discussions and Decisions from the May 22 Board Meeting

Dear all,

I am writing to update you on the discussions and decisions from the May 22nd Board Meeting. As I anticipated at the College Forums and Student Forum leading up to the Board of Trustees Meeting, we presented to the Board a set of financial scenarios and possible responses.

We told the Board that we do not yet have complete information about next year’s enrollment, and we presented the scenarios with sensitivity analyses to account for changes in enrollment, financial aid, fundraising, and endowment market value. The resulting models showed $3-$5 million deficits for fiscal year ending 2020 (this year) and between $5-$50 million deficits for next year, and then $4-$7 million deficits in the subsequent years.

We advocated for planning now for an approximate 10% reduction in enrollment (which is plausible given current information). To balance the budget with that kind of reduction, we recommended several responses—all of which I spoke about in the first College Forum.

The Board voted to approve these responses, and requested that we meet again July 15 to review the models again to determine (based on enrollment, financial aid, fundraising, and the endowment market value) whether we need to do additional cost cutting.

Therefore, the current plan is as follows:

  1. Salaries for faculty and administrators will be held flat for 2020-2021.
  2. Senior officers will have a one-year cut in pay of 5% and the president will have a one-year cut in pay of 10%.
  3. We will delay filling 2020-2021 vacancies for some administrators and 3-4 visiting faculty.
  4. We will reduce operating budgets by 5% in 2020-2021.
  5. Delay some asset preservation work.

The union memberships are also discussing how they will participate, and as I wrote previously, the SEIU and Vassar have agreed on a set of measures that includes early furloughs.

I want to thank everyone for the input, feedback, and ideas shared during the College Forums and Student Forum. Your perspectives very much helped us shape the recommendations we made to the Board. Your engagement will continue to be important as we navigate COVID-19. 

In addition to discussing the financial topics above, the Board of Trustees also heard a presentation from Dean Alamo and Dean Hoynes about the work of the VassarTogether committee as well as the various educational considerations for the fall. The Board was encouraging and supportive of the progress in these areas.

Last, the members of the Board of Trustees have very much looked forward to meeting with students and faculty during their times on campus and were sorry they could not do that this time. They made this video to express their sentiments: https://vimeo.com/424511141



Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604