Our 11th most-read article of 2023.

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Originally published August 25, 2023.

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Colleagues, friends, and adjuncts —

As many of you know, the university is facing unprecedented budget shortfalls. These shortfalls aren’t directly your fault, but to be honest, it is you who will absorb the consequences of our lack of funds. That said, please know we think you’re doing a fantastic job. (Except for the English department, which persists in assigning long books that our market research has decisively concluded students do not find cool.)

Instead, the budget shortfall is primarily due to changes in demographics. There are fewer college-aged students now than before, and of the remaining college-aged people, fewer than before are choosing our kind of institution. Thank you to Frank, our Executive Vice President of Reading Inside Higher Ed and Telling Us What It Says, for that insight.

Our efforts to circumvent these demographic changes by hiring an Executive Vice President of Circumventing Demographics have, so far, yielded limited results. However, we will keep Belinda on staff indefinitely as a consultant in case she comes up with any new ideas.

Given the college’s convenient position within a pharmaceutical research and development hub, we are currently executing plans to contaminate the nation’s supply of birth control pills, rendering them ineffective and resulting in a surplus of new humans, particularly from states where abortion is no longer legal. These babies will eventually populate our appealing new major in Some Buzzword that Sounds Like It Will Get You a Job After You Graduate.

However, the consultants we hired to analyze this plan have informed us that it will take about eighteen years and nine and a half months to bear fruit. Until then, unfortunately, we’ll have to cut costs to stay afloat.

I know budget cuts are unpopular. You have become accustomed to enjoying your free store-brand K-cups in the faculty lounge until they run out in mid-September and the 10 percent discount on Tuesday night standing-room-only tickets to our junior varsity sporting events. You’ve also appreciated being able to invite two semi-high-profile speakers to campus per year by desperately begging them to accept a tiny fraction of their usual speaking fee. Have no fear, these are luxuries the college has no intention of denying you.

Instead, to save money, we’ve hired a new administrator. Please welcome Douglas Smite-Johnson, our new Executive Vice President of Saving Money.

Douglas has a proven track record of saving money. Last semester he saved his previous institution $285,000 in a single day when he left his position to come here.

Our new EVP will seek innovative ways to save money. First, he will ensure we don’t have any money lying around. He’ll search between the cushions of the forty-year-old couch in the commuter lounge. He’ll peek above the sagging drop-ceiling tiles in the art department. He’ll double-check that none of the weights in the weight room are made of solid gold. Since the student-wellness consultants we hired last year concluded that students spend more time in the maybe-solid-gold-filled weight room than the library, Douglas will google to see whether any of the documents in the rare books room are worth anything. If he accosts you on your way to the dining hall and demands your lunch money, just humor him. He’s new here.

Douglas will speak at the next faculty meeting, but for now, he has asked me to assure you that your jobs are safe. In other words, the college will put all the money it saves by eliminating your position into a safe.

And the best news of all? Once we’ve cut languages, literature, philosophy, writing, and non-statistics math, our faculty lounge supply analysis consultants project the free store-brand K-cups will last well into October.

We’re all in this together,
Your Provost