Academic departments will cut back on guest speakers, class trips and catered parties in light of President Tilghman’s announcement on Monday that their budgets will be cut, as administrators work to reduce the 2010 fiscal year budget by $88 million and the next year’s budget by another $82 million.
Departments should prepare for an 8 percent decrease in restricted endowment incomes and a 5 percent cut in their non-personnel administrative budgets in each of the next two fiscal years, Tilghman said.
The cuts will have a significant impact on day-to-day operations, department chairs across campus said Tuesday. They added that they would work hard to maintain the high quality of the undergraduate experience.
“The faculty’s research and other scholarly activities will suffer [because of the budget cuts],” East Asian Studies (EAS) chair David Howell GS ’89 said in an e-mail.
Howell noted that since EAS receives a larger endowment income than many other departments, the cuts may more severely impact the educational experiences of both undergraduate and graduate students in the department.
Though the educational mission of the EAS department will not be affected by the cut, Howell said, many other elements of the department’s “intellectual life,” including class trips and the East Asian Library, will face reduced support.
Similarly, the English department plans to eliminate several scholarly activities not directly related to teaching and research, chair Claudia Johnson GS ’81 said in an e-mail.
“Though our graduate students will still run … and [we will still host] subject-based colloquia, involving outside speakers, we have eliminated other visitors — outside lecturers, conferences involving speakers and panelists from outside the University, etc. — and all the travel, lodging, and dining expenses these entail,” Johnson explained. “This is a big change, since the English Department sponsored and co-sponsored scores of such activities campus-wide.”
Chairs of several other departments, including astrophysics, chemistry and French and Italian, also said they plan on taking similar measures to reduce expenses associated with hosting guest speakers.
The English department will also eliminate some of its catered receptions and parties, Johnson said.
“These cuts will go a long way towards meeting the reductions President Tilghman has called for,” Johnson said. “While on the one hand they will make us more concentrated and focused, they will also make us less expansive. In the past, we’ve never had to say no to good ideas, and in the future we will have to be much more selective.”
Johnson also pledged that the cuts would not affect the department’s “core mission” of teaching and research.
“At the undergraduate level, we’ve found ways actually to enhance our support, particularly of ‘rising’ juniors interested in conducting research during the summer before their senior year,” she said.
But astrophysics department chair David Spergel ’82 said in an e-mail that the cuts would mean reduced summer research offerings for undergraduate concentrators. Travel funding and research grants for graduate students in the department will also be reduced, and the department will rely more heavily on government research grant support than it has in the past, he said.
“We did not make a planned research staff hire on departmental funds,” Spergel noted. “We no longer hire postdoctoral fellows on department general funds and have significantly reduced our visitor program.”
Many department chairs said that they share the goal of maintaining the high quality of the undergraduate experience as they plan their reduced budgets.
Chemistry professor John Groves said in an e-mail that he “expects that there will be no impact on the undergraduate teaching mission” as a result of the budget cuts.
“We are following the president’s directive to continue to provide first rate teaching and continue with world class research,” molecular biology department chair Lynn Enquist said in an e-mail. “We are looking carefully at our expenses and reducing those that have minimal impact on our teaching and research mission.”
Because Enquist’s department plans its budget independently of the endowment and receives most of its research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the cut in endowment income will minimally affect faculty research, Enquist said.
French and Italian department chair Sarah Kay noted that support for graduate students in her department may be restricted in the future, especially for students who request funding beyond their fifth year of study.
While University department chairs plan for the upcoming cuts, their counterparts at Yale — where 7.5 percent cuts for all department personnel and non-personnel spending were recently announced — are similarly engaged.
Yale Director of Business Operations Jane Lee has already received 172 suggestions from staff members about how to save money in the departments, the Yale Daily News reported on Monday. These suggestions included serving less food at department functions, eliminating coffee makers and water coolers and curtailing color copying.
At Princeton, several department chairs said they thought the University was handling the economic situation well.
“I think that President Tilghman and the administration are doing an excellent job of navigating the University through difficult times,” Spergel noted.
Howell said he understands the motivation behind the administration’s actions, adding that he hopes the University will return the departments’ funding once the recession blows over “rather than seize [the] endowments permanently.”
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Groves as the chair of the chemistry department. In fact, the chair is chemistry professor Robert Cava.