Hampshire College faculty, administrators agree to pay cuts 

  • Hampshire College President Ed Wingenbach on the Thornton Quad in April.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/11/2020 8:40:41 PM

AMHERST — Hampshire College faculty members have agreed to take sliding scale pay cuts to avoid layoffs and meet next year’s budget goals.

College administrators and the Hampshire chapter of the American Association of University Professors agreed last month to temporarily reduce the faculty salary pool for the 2020-2021 year, the college announced Thursday.

“Salary reductions will be progressive, with larger percent and real dollar cuts for senior faculty with higher salaries in order to protect the salaries of junior faculty members, visiting faculty members and faculty associates,” according to the statement.

Under the terms, the college also agrees “to reduce the salaries of senior administrators, to protect resources for faculty research and professional development, to manage faculty workload, to improve conditions for contingent faculty, and to prioritize assessing and addressing the impact of the de-diversification on the college,” the statement reads.

Faculty members took similar measures last year, according to Jennifer Bajorek, an associate professor of comparative literature and visual studies at Hampshire and a member of the negotiating team.

“We were already acting collectively to save jobs and avoid layoffs before the pandemic,” Bajorek said in a statement. “We have now taken this effort even further, coming together to shoulder the burden of reductions collectively across the entire faculty and to distribute them as fairly as possible at a very challenging time.”

But the agreement “comes with real costs,” the college pointed out in its announcement. Many faculty members will teach and advise for reduced pay; staff are “stretched thin after multiple years of staff and budget reductions; and faculty members of color and international faculty “rightly called attention to the numbers of faculty and staff of color who have left Hampshire, pointing to the disproportionate burden that both departures and salary reductions pose to those who have been marginalized and underrepresented at Hampshire.”

Due to financial losses caused by the pandemic, colleges nationwide have enacted layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts, with some colleges closing permanently.

Locally, Smith College announced last month that it would place 231 employees on summer furlough, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst implemented consecutive five-day furloughs for employees in three different bargaining units between May 31 and June 20. In April, Holyoke Community College announced that it would lay off 33 part-time employees.

At some colleges and universities, administrators have also taken pay cuts to mitigate financial losses. Hampshire College President Ed Wingenbach announced in April that he would take a 50% voluntary pay cut for the 2020-2021 year, and for the first half of fiscal 2021, officials at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced that college leadership will take voluntary pay cuts — a 20% cut for Smith College President Kathleen McCartney and 12% cut for UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

While the pandemic has placed financial stress on higher education overall, Hampshire College started off in a more vulnerable position than most. Following a decision by previous Hampshire leadership not to accept a full freshman class in 2019 as the college faced a potential merger, Hampshire is now in the midst of a $60 million fundraising campaign to stabilize its finances and return to full enrollment by the 2023-2024 academic year — a goal that Wingenbach has said is still in sight as the college plans to welcome students back to campus in the fall. 

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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