campus news and events

The Reality of a Changed Landscape in Higher Education Affects Everyone

Colby-Sawyer College is committed to engaged learning, which integrates teaching and learning in the arts and sciences with professional preparation. With 175 years experience as an educational institution, Colby-Sawyer is part of the backbone of the higher education community, with a long and proud tradition of excellence in education.

The landscape of higher education is, however, changing, as we are reminded every day by news that illustrates in stark detail the demographic, economic and competitive challenges that colleges – especially small, tuition-dependent private colleges like Colby-Sawyer – are facing. Across America, and especially in New Hampshire and New England, where the majority of our students come from, family incomes are flat, unemployment remains high, home values are still down from where they once were, many do not have increased access to credit, and student debt is at an all-time high.

With award-winning faculty and students, championship athletic teams and a beautiful campus in a supportive town, the college has many strengths and plans for the future. Just in the past five years, we have strengthened our collaboration with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, welcomed students from more than 30 countries, increased the size of our full-time faculty, and made significant investments in our campus facilities to aid our students' teaching and learning experiences.

Colby-Sawyer's goal of enrolling 450 students for the incoming class has nearly been reached, but as the projected net tuition revenues for next year became more clear, so, too, did the fact that the college faces significant financial challenges in order to achieve a balanced budget for next year. Like many colleges before us and around us, we will need to reduce expenses to achieve that balanced budget. Expense reductions identified by senior staff within departmental budgets were not enough to balance the college budget. The Board of Trustees and senior staff had to consider every option.

On Wednesday, May 15, Colby-Sawyer College released 15 full- and part-time staff members from departments across campus. Each was offered a severance package with health benefits. The college also hired an expert in employment transitions to work with each former staff member regarding future employment. The extent of the college's regret at having to take this action cannot be adequately expressed, as the individuals affected offered, for years, their great talents and gifts to the college and its mission to educate students. For their service, we thank them and will always remain grateful.

Together our community will shape the future of Colby-Sawyer. There is a place and a purpose for Colby-Sawyer and colleges like us, and the only way we will adapt to a changing landscape, as we must do, is to believe in ourselves and our students.

If you walk around our campus, you will note the years on the buildings' cornerstones: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 ... they are proof of hope and perseverance during devastating times that must have seemed as disorienting to people then as we may feel now. With creative and innovative solutions, tenacity and compassion, we are confident that we will adapt and endure as a college that graduates well-prepared students for careers of the future in a competitive, ever-changing world.

Thomas C. Galligan Jr.


Professor of Humanities

May 17, 2013

Correction, May 22: Colby-Sawyer College released 16 full- and part-time staff members from departments across campus.