Halls of Ivy Face Budget Squeeze
Yale needs $1 billion in refurbishing, also plans realignment of some departments
NEW HAVEN, CONN.
THE gray gothic buildings, with their impressive buttresses and imposing towers, speak of Yale University's three-century history in the forefront of American education.Skip to next paragraph
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But the peeling paint above the door of the office of undergraduate admissions tells a different story.
A staggering $1 billion worth of maintenance work needs to be done on campus facilities, most of them built in this century.
Even without this repair bill, Yale must reduce its academic offerings or see its annual budget deficits reach $50 million by the end of the decade, says Provost Frank Turner.
The thought of an 11 percent cut in Yale's faculty - a measure proposed last month by an in-house commission that Dr. Turner headed - is met with disbelief by many of the students and professors here.
Yet the problems that seem so glaring at this richly endowed Ivy League bastion are being faced in some degree at colleges and universities across the country.
"There's a lot of pressure on university budgets" nationwide, says Robert Rosenzweig, president of the Association of American Universities. Among the constraints he and other experts cite:
* Financial aid to students is absorbing a rising share of operating budgets.
* Competition to attract top-flight professors is likely to increase due to a shortage of PhDs in the next 20 years. Soaring health-care costs have added to the payroll problem.
* Like Yale, many institutions face a backlog of repair work, known as "deferred maintenance." Extra money is needed to make structures comply with a just-enacted federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act.
* Last year, budget-strapped state governments reduced their net support for higher education for the first time in more than three decades.
* Meanwhile, Washington is tightening its standards for granting money for research.
* After a decade of big tuition hikes, public resistance puts a damper on further increases, particularly in the present slow-growth economy.
* The nation's economic slump has made charitable gifts harder to come by. Focusing on strengths
"The overarching theme will be that no university has enough resources to do everything anymore. So they have to focus on what they do best," Mr. Rosenzweig says.
Kent Chabotar, treasurer of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, offers a similar assessment: "Schools are going to have to consider becoming boutiques rather than supermarkets."
At Yale, for example, 40 percent of the proposed cuts would come from four departments. The departments of operations research (an applied math field) and of linguistics would be phased out entirely. Engineering would be consolidated into one department, removing special departments for chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering. Sociology would lose 11 of 27 positions. For tenured faculty, the cuts would be achieved through attrition rather than layoffs.
Despite such moves, "Yale is not going to become a specialized university," says university president Benno Schmidt. "We are doing some downsizing in order to better support what we will continue to do." Restructuring opposed