College to Cut Budgets in Coming Year

In a letter to faculty and staff earlier this month, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Geoff Swift announced that the college has asked senior staff to reduce their programmatic budgets by five percent across the board next year.

Though he assured employees that the college is “stronger than ever,” he cited a changing economic environment as the reason that departments need to be more frugal. Since the 2020 fiscal year, Bates’ operating costs have grown by $15 million, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This year, the college’s total operating budget stands at $131 million, including $98 million of net single fee income, a $20 million draw from the college’s endowment, $6.5 million of unrestricted annual fund gifts and six million dollars “of all over.” Swift’s letter stated.

Swift wrote that the single fee, or the tuition that a full-pay student’s family contributes, “is one important lever to increase revenue,” but stated that “it is important to recognize that Bates families, like the college, are experiencing increased inflation across the board, which limits how much the single fee can be increased in a given year.” 

The letter did not state whether or not the college was going to raise next year’s single fee; this year the college charged $78,290 per year to enrolled students. The single fee has risen about three percent per year. 

According to the letter, the college spent over six million dollars on direct COVID-19 costs in the 2020-21 school year. In the next year, though COVID-19 testing, masks, cleaning and other expenses were less, increased fuel costs caused the college’s utility expenses to balloon nearly one million dollars over budget. 

The endowment dropped from $466 million to $419 million between 2021 and 2022, due to the investment environment worsening, the letter stated. The Bates campaign wrapped up this year—the college’s advancement office raised $345 million over five years.

Despite the impending cuts, Bates announced on Tuesday that it will expand faculty by adding eight new tenure-track positions over the next three years.

Swift stated that though the announcements of the cuts may seem “contradictory” because of the college’s reported strength, he is “confident that we will weather these challenges together and that Bates will continue to offer a distinctive and transformative experience for generations to come.”