Shirley Jackson says she's taking a pay cut

Shirley Jackson at EMPAC opening

Dr. Shirley Jackson

In an email sent out Wednesday afternoon to "The Rensselaer Community," Shirley Jackson announced that she and the institute's cabinet are taking pay cuts. From the email:

The President and the Cabinet will take 5 percent and 2.5 percent salary reductions, respectively, or make equivalent givebacks, to Rensselaer in the 2010 fiscal year. Those funds will be contributed to a student scholarship fund.

Back in a January an RPI official told a group of students that Jackson had requested a pay cut -- but, he said, the board had turned down her request.

This most recent email doesn't detail how the cut will be calculated. Jackson reportedly gets $1.3 million in compensation from RPI -- of that, a little more than $900,000 is salary. A five percent cut of the total package would be $65,000. The same percentage of the $900k would be $45,000.

In the email from Wednesday, Jackson also addressed the recent layoffs at the school:

The actions we have taken in recent months to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on the Institute have been effective. While the reduction in force we implemented in December was difficult for all of us, it enabled us to reduce our budget by the necessary amount. Now, at a time when many other organizations are announcing layoffs, we do not anticipate any further reductions in force.

The full email, which includes details about tuition increases and other initiatives, is after the jump.

To: The Rensselaer Community
From: Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President and Professor of Physics
Date: March 4, 2009
Re: Managing Through the Economic Crisis

I write to provide an update on our continued progress toward meeting
the challenges posed by the worldwide economic crisis, and on other
recent policy developments. We had a productive meeting of the Board of
Trustees February 26-28, at which we made several decisions that will
impact members of the Rensselaer community in the coming months. As with
all of the actions that have been taken to weather the economic
downturn, we have sought to protect the core enterprise of Rensselaer:
to provide a superb academic and living experience for our students, and
to enable the highest levels of research and scholarship by our faculty.

The actions we have taken in recent months to mitigate the impact of the
economic crisis on the Institute have been effective. While the
reduction in force we implemented in December was difficult for all of
us, it enabled us to reduce our budget by the necessary amount. Now, at
a time when many other organizations are announcing layoffs, we do not
anticipate any further reductions in force.

I will provide a brief overview of the latest developments here, and I
look forward to a conversation with members of the Rensselaer community
on Thursday, March 5, at 10 a.m., at the Spring Town Meeting in the
EMPAC Concert Hall.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The Board of Trustees has approved undergraduate and full-time graduate
tuition for the 2009-10 academic year. Tuition for full-time
undergraduate and full-time graduate students will be $38,100, an
increase of 3.1 percent. This is the smallest tuition increase since
1996 - a measure that was made possible by the proactive steps we have
taken since the onset of the economic crisis. On average, room and board
rates will increase 3.9 percent. Graduate tuition rates for the
Education for Working Professionals program also have been approved by
the Board of Trustees.

Long before the economic downturn - starting in 2005 - we began taking
major steps to enhance our financial aid resources. Specifically, since
then, we have increased the overall financial aid budget by $20 million
to $83 million. Included in this are significant additional resources to
assist especially financially needy students. In the process, we created
a $2 million supplemental aid fund to assist students who encounter
financial hardships -this year helping more than 400 students. We have
made major improvements in the effectiveness of the work-study program,
and opened a new range of housing options to students with higher
financial need.

Academic Enterprise

The academic enterprise lies at the heart of our ability to provide the
best educational experience for our students. All of our instructional
staff make important contributions to the university, but the tenured
and tenure-track faculty anchor the intellectual vitality of our
scholarship and teaching at Rensselaer. They provide the permanence and
stability on which we continue to build our academic stature. In keeping
with our goal of building the long-term academic strength of Rensselaer,
we are moving away from hiring faculty on a temporary basis from year to
year. This means that more of the responsibility for the curriculum and
course offerings must be assumed by the tenured and tenure-track
faculty. We will be relying increasingly on these faculty, who must be
both strong teachers and leading scholars in their fields.

In FY 2010, we will recruit to fill eight Constellation faculty
positions, as well as hire the Academic (School) Deans and Vice
President for Research. We also expect to hire tenured and tenure-track
faculty to assume the positions of Director of Research at EMPAC and
Director of the Computational Center for Nanotechnology
Innovations. This will add a total of 14 new tenured and tenure-track
faculty. This transition to a greater reliance on the core strengths of
the Institute is an important investment in the future of Rensselaer.

Employee Raises

Consistent with our fiscal needs in the coming year, except for
increases for promotions and/or the assumption of new administrative or
managerial responsibilities, we will offer salary increases to only a
limited number of employees for fiscal year 2010. Employees earning less
than $50,000 will receive raises consistent with their individual
performances. The salaries of all other employees will remain frozen
through the 2010 fiscal year.

The President and the Cabinet will take 5 percent and 2.5 percent salary
reductions, respectively, or make equivalent givebacks, to Rensselaer in
the 2010 fiscal year. Those funds will be contributed to a student
scholarship fund.

Student Experience

Building on the success of the award-winning First-Year Experience, the
Division of Student Life will move forward on several new initiatives
designed to elevate the undergraduate experience. The new student life
model is based on the concept of "Clustered Learning Advocacy and
Support for Students" (CLASS). The CLASS initiative will support
enhanced residence life programming, with residence commons deans who
are faculty, assisted by live-in commons deans, assisted by upperclass
and graduate student resident assistants. We also will initiate
individual class year deans, and infrastructure for the development of
an international student experience and a student life arts program.

To provide ongoing support for second-year students as they continue in
their academic and social growth at Rensselaer, beginning in the fall
2009 semester with the entering class of 2013, the Institute will phase
in the Sophomore Year Experience program. Beginning with the Class of
2013, freshmen and sophomores will be required to live in Rensselaer
housing, or in fraternities and sororities that partner with the
Institute on regulations, and room and board fees. The goal of the
program is to provide students with a greater sense of belonging and
community - through living-learning experiences, leadership development
opportunities, and increased interaction with faculty under the CLASS
initiative model.

Two new residence facilities will help meet the increased demand for
university housing. Beginning with the fall semester, students will have
a new housing option in the heart of downtown Troy. The Sixth Avenue
Residence Hall - formerly the Best Western Rensselaer Inn - has
undergone a complete renovation and modernization to convert it to a
state-of-the-art student residence. We also have entered into an
agreement with the Polytechnic Apartments on Congress Street to lease
additional rooms for upperclassmen.

Keeping Current

The Division of Strategic Communications and External Relations has
developed a new Web site to help you stay up to speed on the latest
details about our approach to the economic crisis. The site will serve
as a central resource and clearinghouse for news, information, and
updates on our actions and responses. It can be accessed at:

I know that some of the steps we have taken to respond to the economic
downturn have been painful for our community. But these actions have
been designed to protect our core academic enterprise in the midst of
unprecedented turbulence in the financial markets. Our students and
faculty remain our top priorities. Teaching and research are the very
essence of Rensselaer's mission, and we have taken every measure
possible to minimize the effects of necessary budget reductions on our
academic programs. We are better positioned now than ever to manage the
unusual worldwide financial circumstances that are affecting
institutions everywhere. Times are hard, but we are resilient. We will
weather the storm, and emerge stronger as we pass through it.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Rensselaer.

(Thanks, Anonymous)


They froze employees' annual cost of living raises. No word yet on if the cost of living will also be frozen.

The cost of living raises aren't targeted to just RPI - my current company, as well as many other companies, have had bonuses removed, cost of living removed, annual salary increases stalled...

And I feel lucky to even have a job.

Had another cup of coffee and have to agree, Lola. A paycheck at all in these times is a blessing.

Not that Ms Jackson is not working for her money, but I think she can afford to give up more than $45K out of $900K. It seems like a drop in the bucket, considering all the other pay freezes and tuition hikes. If that money is going back into a scholarship fund, it won't go very far when tuition is over $38K. It seems like lip service when she quotes a "worldwide economic crisis" but still takes so much while students are paying more every year.

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