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Smith, Hampshire colleges announce pay cuts

  • The Grecourt Gates of Smith College on Elm Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 4/22/2020 11:26:12 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, Smith College is implementing pay cuts and furloughs as well as considering the possibility of delaying an on-campus fall semester.

At Smith and Hampshire colleges, both presidents are taking voluntary pay cuts — a 20% cut for Smith President Kathleen McCartney and a 50% cut for Hampshire President Ed Wingenbach.

At Smith, where there is an estimated $8 million to $10 million gap in this year’s budget, college officials plan on “an in-person fall semester and hope to welcome students back to campus” as usual in late August or early September, McCartney wrote in a email earlier this week to students, staff and faculty. But college officials are also considering other possibilities.

“If we need to delay the start of the fall semester, we will still be prepared to offer a full, in-person academic year by extending the term longer than usual or having fewer breaks,” McCartney wrote.

“Nonetheless, we have to consider the possibility that public health guidance will prevent us from full on-campus operations in the fall, and we are actively planning for alternate scenarios,” she continued.

To mitigate budget hits, McCartney and David DeSwert, who is vice president for finance and administration at Smith College, will each take a voluntary 20% salary cut for the first half of fiscal 2021, McCartney said, and all vice presidents will take a voluntary salary cut ranging from 5% to 20% during this period.

The college will extend its hiring freeze through 2021, with exceptions for some positions deemed critical; will not give out salary increases for the first half of the year; will place some staff members on full or partial summer furlough “if there is not sufficient work for them while the college remains in remote operation,” during which period they will retain their benefits; and has suspended all nonessential capital projects.

At Hampshire College, President Ed Wingenbach maintains that, despite the financial difficulties the school is facing, Hampshire will prevail over the new economic challenges posed by the pandemic.

“These impacts will drive many financially precarious colleges to close,” Wingenbach wrote in an update post on the college’s website. “Hampshire College will not be one of them.”

The college is currently in the first year of a five-year, $60 million fundraising campaign to return Hampshire to financial stability and restore a full enrollment. The college has accepted 650 first-year students and 64 transfer students for next fall’s class and maintains a goal of enrolling 350 students in the fall 2021 class.

But the pandemic will also necessitate sacrifices, he said: “The budget for next year will need to be smaller, and a smaller budget will entail cuts even as the college rapidly enacts the new curriculum, responds to the continuing uncertainty of the fall, and addresses immediate shortfalls.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at

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