On June 23, in the wake of a significant decline in the value of its endowment, Harvard announced a universitywide reduction of its workforce. Cost-saving measures—including some staff cuts—were announced by most of the university’s graduate schools, including HLS.
At the law school, all departments were mandated to design budgets for FY10 approximately 10 percent lower than their budgets in FY09, after projections showed that the law school could expect to receive $10 million less from the endowment in FY10 than it received in 2009.
In recent years the endowment has paid for nearly 40 percent of HLS’s operating expenses.
As part of a variety of budget measures, the law school was compelled to reduce its workforce of about 550 by almost 50 positions. Most of these reductions were derived from a combination of the university’s early retirement program, the elimination of jobs currently vacant, the ending of some limited-term appointments and several offers of redeployment. But there were also 12 layoffs announced on June 23, across a range of paygrades and departments.
In addition to these measures, reductions in faculty allowances and certain stipends have been instituted for FY10. And, changes in procedures for developing the teaching program in FY11 and beyond have been put in place to ensure that the permanent faculty will teach as many core courses as possible, and in some cases teach above their required loads, in part so that fewer visiting professors will be needed.
Howell Jackson ’82, acting dean at the time, said layoffs were considered only after taking other steps to minimize the impact on staff, such as freezing salaries for faculty and exempt staff, strictly limiting new hires, reducing the use of temporary labor and offering a voluntary early retirement program.
In addition, members of the faculty and senior administration staff pledged several hundred thousand dollars in contributions and waived some forms of compensation to help alleviate the pressure to downsize.
In a message to staff, Jackson wrote: “Throughout this process … our compass was set according to our strategic goals: to make sure that Harvard Law School will continue to offer first-class teaching and scholarship; attract top-tier students and faculty; build its world-class clinical program; support the finest law library and legal materials collection in the world; and maintain its long-standing commitments to financial aid and the encouragement of public service.”