Letters to the Editor

Letter: Money matters

Friday, September 9, 2016

To the Editor:

The comment by University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi in the article on the SciLi refurbishment regarding a “guarantee” not to reduce staff number or salaries in the transition of the SciLi to a digital-age library and office complex is very troubling to me as an alumnus, who attended with loan aid, and as a regular recent donor to annual Brown giving. This comment suggests a poor commitment on the part of Brown management to restraining operating costs by making use of the increased productivity that the transition to online libraries has brought about. Even if the longer-term plan is to reduce staffing by attrition, as current staff retire, this represents an overly sluggish management response.

This style of management and associated wasteful personnel policy may undermine the willingness of alumni to donate to the Brown organization, which has thereby raised questions about whether it can be trusted to efficiently utilize donated monies to the benefit of students. Students and their families will end up paying for part of this “guarantee” through their tuition payments and through their education loans. The University should operate as a rational business. It must act as a good steward of donations and student tuition payments. This duty should not include guarantees of lifetime employment to staff or faculty members whose roles are made obsolete by technological improvements in productivity. Placement services and encouragement of lifetime vocational learning activities among staff would be a more effective use of moneys being committed to guarantee current salaries and positions for displaced workers.

Preston C. Calvert ’76 MD’79