KSG Lays Off Staff Members To Trim Budget Deficit

Adjunct Faculty, administrative positions among cuts made

The Kennedy School of Government will eliminate 30 administrative positions and 17 adjunct faculty positions in its latest efforts to reduce a multi-million dollar budget deficit, officials announced last week.

The staff cuts—half through direct layoffs and half through allowing vacated position to remain unfilled—affected administrative offices throughout the school.

The school, which faces a $5.6 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2002, hopes that the layoffs, combined with previous cost-cutting iniatives, will save it $2.5 million a year and put it in the black by Fiscal Year 2004.

“As difficult as the decisions were, we have tried to act as compassionately as possible,” Executive Dean J. Bonnie Newman said. “I recognize that all the compassion in the world doesn’t suffice for having your job.”

Although many of the University’s schools have tightened budgets as a result of the recession, the Kennedy School has taken the hardest hit. The school had run planned budget deficits for years to allow for growth.


But after this year’s deficit projections shot up from just under $3 million to the curent $5.6 million figure, Dean Joseph S. Nye announced in April that previous cost-cutting measures—closing the school’s Washington office, consolidating space in Cambridge and laying off five people—would not suffice.

Although Newman said the layoffs were carefully considered and had affected low-level, mid-level and senior positions, some have charged that the school has unfairly targeted the administrative staff rather than looking for other cost-saving measures.

One staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity and said she had not been laid off, said that Kennedy School faculty “live like little kings” and that activities like faculty lunches, which occur several times a week, should not continue in light of the layoffs.

“I think most of the staff are quite hurt,” she said. “The dean seems to feel [the lunches] are more important than saving people’s jobs.”

Although the lunches will continue, Newman said the food service would be less expensive and would include more brown bag lunches in place of hot meals.

Faculty have said that lunch meetings are central to the school’s academic mission—“it’s not like these are just people sort of getting fat,” Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment Robert Z. Lawrence said.

“It’s a question of what’s most important to the school,” he added. “I understand it’s very painful for people to lose their jobs, and it’s a question of where do you want to cut, and it’s not obvious if you cut people’s meals you wouldn’t have to cut people’s jobs in the canteen.”

Meetings between faculty and the dean at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire—which the staff member had questioned as too costly—will now take place in Cambridge for a savings of $50,000, Newman said.

Nye recently appointed a committee, chaired by Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Shorenstein Center, to consider how to reduce future costs without cutting personnel, while building morale at the school.

Newman said the school was working to place laid-off staff in other positions at Harvard or at Kennedy School research centers—many of which are funded through restricted donations and thus were not affected in the staff cuts.