Amherst 250 Plan
The Impact of the 250 Plan
All of this is to make clear that the allocation of 250 additional faculty members to the various programs and activities of the campus follows a complex, serious, and data driven process in which the advice and counsel of groups such as the many councils of the Faculty Senate, various student organizations, and others play a significant role. This process is open, data-driven, and accessible so that the conversation on the optimal allocation of resources will focus on issues of performance.
The 250 Plan anticipates that each additional faculty member will cost the campus at least $130,000 (using 2004-2005 costs). This number, as indicated above, includes salary plus the associated cost of supporting the new faculty member. It is probably an underestimate, given the rapidly escalating cost of acquiring and supporting faculty members in the sciences, engineering, and other high technology fields. In addition, faculty in fields such as music, history, English, languages and cultures, have significant support requirements related to their research and teaching reflected in library and other costs that may not be located in their home departments. As inflation raises competitive salaries for faculty and as the cost of the physical plant renovations required continue to escalate, the campus may need to adjust the $130,000 estimate.
When the Legislature appropriates and the Governor approves budget increases that deliver new resources for faculty support to the Amherst campus, the campus will immediately move, following the procedures outlined above, to recruit the highest number of faculty possible. We use a conservative estimated average rate of $130,000 per faculty position for salary and all other support costs from the new funds provided. As we continue to hire additional faculty within the competitive marketplace we may well find the $130,000 average too low, especially when including the costs of setting up new science faculty with laboratories. The campus makes this commitment with the understanding that the funds appropriated and delivered to the campus reflect new money and that the other fiscal circumstances that drive the campus budget remain stable within the parameters of the campus five-year plan.
Perhaps the greatest risk to the 250 Plan involves delay. The plan reflects costs as of 2004-05 with the very conservative estimate of $130,000 per faculty position including support costs. If the implementation of the Plan takes a long time and the cost of faculty, equipment, renovation, and new construction rises significantly, the $130,000 figure will be too low and we will need to readjust the estimates. Other risks come from policy issues. For example, if the state changed its requirements for construction resulting in an increase in the cost of renovation and repair of facilities, the cost per faculty member for supporting teaching and research will rise. If the state reduced its support of the matching program for private gifts for construction or endowment, this would reduce the amounts available from these private sources in support of faculty needs for teaching and research. Although not a risk, it is important to recognize that the 250 Plan anticipates all new faculty acquisitions at the entry level. However, in the event that the campus and its colleges need to acquire some senior faculty in some positions because the early retirement program left a department without senior scholars and teachers, the number of faculty possible within the 250 plan will be somewhat reduced given the higher salaries of senior scholars.
Other changes may also affect the number of faculty we can add for a given additional state appropriation. For example, if the campus is even more successful than anticipated in identifying private support for academic programs, the average cost per new faculty member from state funds could be less, permitting some significant improvement in the numbers. Should the volume of grants and contracts grow much faster than anticipated in the five-year plan, the number of faculty could increase beyond what is possible with the estimates in our current 5-year plan and the additional funding from the 250 Plan. For these reasons, the clear and transparent availability of full budget data will help everyone track the success of the campus in meeting its goals within the terms of the 250 Plan.