Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members,
We write with a summary of the most recent Board of Managers meeting, which took place on campus on May 5 and 6. While here, the Managers had opportunities to hear several presentations.
For the past several months, the College has been studying possible improvements to its aging athletics facilities, which support the personal and physical development and well-being of students, faculty, and staff members. Marian Ware Director of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation Brad Koch and Senior Planner and Project Manager Roderick Wolfson provided an overview of some of the challenges these facilities have in meeting the demands of the campus community, as well as preliminary, conceptual approaches that might address those challenges. Vice President for Advancement Liz Wood talked with the Board about potential fundraising opportunities that could support improvements to these facilities, as well as to programs for student well-being more broadly.
Assistant Vice President and Executive Director of Career Services Claire Klieger reflected upon her first year at Swarthmore, identifying areas of opportunity to improve how career services supports students and reviewing some of the work she’s already done to increase student engagement.
General Counsel Sharmaine LaMar and Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock updated the Managers on the College’s planning efforts in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on race-conscious admissions, which is expected to come in June. The update included a presentation by Art Coleman, a managing partner and co-founder of EducationCounsel LLC, whom the College has engaged to help navigate the effects of the ruling.
The Board also heard from Vice President for Communications Andy Hirsch and our partners at Truth & Consequences on the ongoing work to create a new messaging and visual identity framework that will help ensure we communicate about the College in compelling and consistent ways that are authentic to Swarthmore’s mission and values.
On Friday evening, Managers recognized and honored Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sarah Willie-LeBreton for her 26 years of service to the College and wished her well as she departs Swarthmore to become the 12th president of Smith College. Some Managers were also able to catch the second half of the men’s lacrosse semi-final and cheer the Garnet to a 12-11 victory over Gettysburg College.
As it typically does in May, the Board also approved the College’s annual operating budget. The upcoming budget, which begins on July 1, represents a nearly 7% increase over the current operating budget, with the Board approving several significant investments to strengthen the student experience and our collective ability to fulfill the College’s mission.
2023-24 Salary Increases
The Board recognizes the importance of continuing to invest in and support Swarthmore student workers, faculty, and staff members, particularly given the effects of inflation and uncertain economic conditions. Over the past several months, the administration has been working with the Board’s Finance Committee and others to develop a budget designed to help individuals navigate some of those challenges. The upcoming budget includes the following compensation increases, which will go into effect July 1:
- Staff Members All eligible staff members will receive a 5.25% pay increase. This higher-than-normal increase is meant to help mitigate the impact of inflation. In addition, we are increasing the minimum wage for regular, hourly staff members from $15.75 to $17 per hour, which will translate to a nearly 8% increase for some of our hourly workers.
- Faculty Members Faculty members will receive an increase between 7.3% and 9% depending on an individual’s rank of assistant, associate, or full professor. These increases are designed to help ensure the College meets its long-standing commitment to pay faculty 102.5% of the average of our peer institutions. Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sarah Willie LeBreton will send a communication to department chairs with additional, more detailed information on faculty compensation.
- Student Workers Student workers will receive a pay increase between 16% and 21% this coming fiscal year, with the majority of student workers receiving a minimum of $15 per hour as of July 1. The Board committed to a $15-per-hour minimum wage for all student workers effective July 1, 2024.
Enhancements to Faculty and Staff Benefits
The pay increases for our faculty and staff members are part of a comprehensive compensation package that the College, in collaboration with the Faculty Compensation Committee and the Faculty and Staff Benefits Committee, regularly works to improve. During the 2023 calendar year, the College absorbed the increase in health care costs, allowing employee contributions to remain the same as they were in 2022. We are also pleased to be able to enhance the College’s Child Care Subsidy Grant to help families manage the cost of child care by expanding access to the program, increasing both the financial threshold for eligibility and the amount of the grant award itself. The College also introduced a new Adoption Fee Reimbursement Program, offering benefits-eligible employees up to $10,000 in reimbursements for adoption-related expenses, including legal, travel, and other related expenses.
In addition, we are once again increasing the amount of financial support available through Swarthmore’s Tuition Grant Program. The program provides financial assistance toward postsecondary tuition and fees for dependent children of benefits-eligible employees. Effective July 1, dependent children of full-time, benefits-eligible employees may now be eligible for a tuition grant of up to 50% of Swarthmore’s tuition, up from 40%. Dependent children of part-time, benefits-eligible employees may be eligible for a tuition grant of up to 25%, up from 20%. For more detailed information, please visit the Tuition Grant Program page on the College’s website.
New Student Initiatives
Last fall, we piloted a program that provided laptops to eligible students who indicated that they could not afford one. Following that successful trial, we will continue the program, ensuring that students have access to appropriate technology.
As we recently shared with students and their families, we’re also piloting a new program to provide all students with access to free SEPTA passes during the 2023-24 academic year, beginning in September, enabling their travel to and from the city and throughout the region free of charge. This pilot program not only fits with our commitment to access and equity, but it also speaks to our sustainability goals and our efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
The Budget Office will send more details on the approved fiscal year 2023-24 operating budget to departmental financial managers in the weeks ahead.
The Board also recognized two Managers who will conclude their service on the Board effective June 30: Tom Hartnett ’94 and BoHee Yoon ’01. BoHee also concludes her service as president of the alumni association. We are grateful to these Managers for their extraordinary commitment to and stewardship of the College. The Board also approved four new Managers and two emeriti Managers who will be announced later this summer.
And finally, as it does each May, the Board had the pleasure of approving the conferral of degrees for members of the Class of 2023, pending final approval by the faculty on May 18. We look forward to celebrating the graduating class at Commencement on May 21.
Val Smith, President
Koof Kalkstein ’78, Chair, Board of Managers