Response to questions about college financial planning and staffing

Dear Williams staff and faculty,

We hope that you and yours are doing as well as possible under the circumstances.

We want to respond to questions about job security that some of you have communicated to us in the wake of recent campus emails. The most direct expression of concern has been a question about whether staff should anticipate temporary or permanent layoffs. Some people have also asked the college to promise that we will not cut jobs. We want to respond publicly so that everyone has a chance to understand the situation and our commitments.

We know that hearing about the impact of the pandemic on the college’s finances naturally leads to these concerns. The college has protected everyone’s job so far, including the jobs of people unable to work remotely, and there are no plans to change that.

The request for a promise of no cuts is harder to answer, because the college has never been able to make such a promise, given that none of us can predict what the future will bring. But the people of this community are our most precious resource, and we can and do promise you that the college will exhaust our other options before considering layoffs or furloughs.

We are already working hard to tap those other possibilities. For example, the college has halted almost all campus capital and renewal projects, and has slowed non-essential searches and hiring. And over the next few days every Senior Staff member will ask their managers to model different levels of cuts to their operating budgets. We are doing so specifically so we can find ways to manage the extreme budgetary pressure without layoffs or furloughs. We invite you to talk with your managers about areas where you think your group could find savings without harming the mission. You can also share such ideas and concerns with us directly, by email or through the Ad Hoc Committee on Financial Planning webpage.

This response is not a guarantee, and we wish it could be. But we hope it explains why absolutes are not possible and shows you how we and our colleagues are working to protect this community and the people who constitute it—our colleagues, friends and neighbors. That work will require everyone’s collective creativity, and we invite you to contribute however and wherever you can.

We plan to communicate about these ongoing efforts openly, so please continue to let us know what issues are most important to you and the future of the college.


Dukes Love, Provost and Class of 1969 Professor of Economics
Fred Puddester, Vice President of Finance and Administration and Treasurer