Kathy Murray sends out financial sustainability recommendations from the cabinet

Alasdair Padman, Editor-in-Chief

Updated from print on Thursday, March 11.

The President and her Cabinet released their cumulative recommendations on March 10. These recommendations come after considering recommendations from the academic programs, administrative unit and student support committees. The Board of Trustees who will make their final decision on these recommendations at the end of March.

President Kathy Murray notified the Whitman community that, “you will notice that the Cabinet’s recommendations have evolved even from those final committee documents based on your feedback.”

She went on to write that, while the Cabinet recognizes that these recommendations are harmful to certain departments and majors, “Budget cutting does not come without some loss.”

These losses include the decision not to fill current and future vacancies left by retiring environmental humanities, classics, and Japanese faculty members, as well as the loss of 6.9 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions “within non-tenure-track staffing in studio art (0.4), Asian and Middle Eastern studies (0.4), biology (0.5), French (0.6), music (0.6), chemistry (1), politics (1), psychology (0.2), religion (0.4), first year seminar (0.8) and theater and dance (1).” The losses also consist of the elimination of eight FTE staff positions.

They also recommend that Chinese and Japanese retain their language assistants while allowing “other foreign language departments to hire current students for language assistant function if they choose to do so.”

The sabbatical policy may be modified so that tenure-track faculty can only submit applications after five years of teaching and will only receive “90 percent of annual salary for a one-semester leave” and “must teach three courses in the other semester” or “70 percent of annual salary for a full-year leave,” The current sabbatical policy ensures that professors receive 100 percent of their salary after four years of full-time teaching or 82 percent of their salary for a one-year sabbatical.

The Cabinet has decided not to increase flexibility in financial aid gapping as “this would directly contradict our strategic priority around access and affordability.”

Other Cabinet recommendations include: reducing the number of RA’s in residence life by five; reducing the annual budget for faculty professional development to $300,000 with no funding available for visiting assistant professors; suspend the Crossroads study abroad program; replace light fixtures with LED’s beginning with Fouts; revise policy for compensating tenured and tenure-track faculty who teach more than five courses in a year; offer game guarantees to entice non-conference teams to travel to Walla Walla to reduce the number of away competitions for varsity athletics teams; work with a single vendor to purchase athletic uniforms and equipment.

Further information on each of these changes can be found in the “President’s Cabinet Report 3.15.21 – Whitman College.pdf” that was included with the March 10 email.