Hampshire College to make staff cuts

  • A sagging banner reading “This Is Our Home These Are Our Lives” hangs on the Harold F. Johnson Library Center at Hampshire College. The banner is in response to the board of trustees’ decision not to enroll a full fall 2019 class as the college seeks a “strategic partnership” amid financial difficulties.

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2019 10:46:39 PM

AMHERST — Hampshire College has confirmed that it will be announcing staff layoffs in the coming days.

College spokesman John Courtmanche said Tuesday that job cuts will be announced late this week or early next week. The layoffs are expected to be the first of several rounds of cuts at Hampshire, which is looking to partner with another institution because of money troubles. Hampshire’s board of trustees voted on Feb. 1 not to accept an incoming class this fall, making staff and faculty cuts inevitable at the college. 

Hampshire’s $52 million endowment is relatively small compared to other colleges, and the school relies on tuition and student fees to cover 87 percent of its operating expenses. Tuition at Hampshire College was $50,000 for this academic year, and room and board cost almost $14,000, though the college offers discounts to many students in order to attract them to the school.

The college’s staff members are not unfamiliar with concern over their jobs. As enrollment has declined from 1,390 in 2014 to 1,120 today, the college has left positions unfilled, reduced contributions to employee pensions and cut jobs in recent years. 

“Staff have already experienced deep cuts over the last few years, most recently in 2018, and so this is different in scope but not different in the experience of job insecurity,” said Laura Melbin, who in her job as an associate dean of advising is a staff member.

Melbin, who has worked at Hampshire for more than 12 years, said she believes in Hampshire’s mission and pedagogy. She said faculty and staff are devoted to the college’s success and want to work collaboratively.

However, staff like Melbin who are employed directly by the college don’t have a union, she said.

“Because faculty have contracts, and staff have no collective bargaining at all, the ability that we have to advocate for ourselves is limited in a way that it is not for faculty,” Melbin said.

Faculty are the professorial staff at the college, and staff are the college’s other employees.

For their part, faculty are worried about how their own contracts will likely be broken. However, there is currently no information about what those layoffs may look like or when they might occur.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.
Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Valley Advocate Newsletter
Daily Hampshire Gazette Dining & Entertainment


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy