Sense of Faculty Motion June 2020

The Middlebury College Faculty believes our core values must drive our budgetary principles. We cannot abandon the values we demonstrate in good times because these are now temporarily more expensive. We are committed to a vibrant liberal arts education and endorse policies that call for flexible allocation of resources allowing us to provide the best possible education consistent with the health and safety our community. To that end, we urgently recommend that any shortfalls in revenues for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year be met with means avoiding further cuts in compensation for employees, furloughs, or layoffs.
We should address lost revenues with an endowment draw reflecting the severity of the crisis. Deferred maintenance, operating cuts for events and travel due to pared down activities during a pandemic, and less aggressive debt retirement are additional ways to avoid cuts that prioritize people over buildings.
The college must not use the crisis to engage in financial opportunism. The pandemic should not be exploited to impose future cuts in compensation, permanent cuts to retirement, or to redeem the sins of previous administrations.
Any cuts to compensation that do occur must be progressive, with substantial “marginal tax rates” on the institution’s highest earners. They must also be deferred cuts, with explicit guidelines to restore them in the near future.
A once in a century public health crisis demands a once in a century policy that does not require the current generation of students, staff and faculty to bear even more of the burden they have already carried and will certainly bear in the coming months. Employees have already taken a significant cut in compensation for next year, as the projected budget eliminates a planned 3 to 3.5% salary increase, for example, even as staff and faculty will be working extra hard to make the 2020-21 academic year safe and effective for our students and community.
Over the course of more than two centuries, Middlebury College has been a vital contributor to the higher education community as well as the state of Vermont. We must maintain our commitments to excellent teaching and scholarship, and to responsible citizenship as Addison County’s top employer.

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