Review of Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees Minutes (Record Group 3.1) for references to the economic depression, 1929-1940
These minutes are for meetings of the full Board as well as those of Trustees committees, particularly the Executive and Finance Committees. They reflect discussions and decisions by Board members and include references to the impact of the depression on the College. Some of these references are quoted or summarized below; others are photocopied and are available in the Archives and Special Collections reading room. Trustees and administrators mentioned in the minutes include:
- Allyn, Harriet (Class of 1905): Academic Dean and Professor of Anthropology, 1929-1948
- Bishop, Lottie G. (Class of 1906): Trustee, 1931-1936
- Bruyn, Gertrude (Class of 1914): Field Secretary, 1923-1950; Director of Development, 1951-1958
- Bump, Boardman: Treasurer and Comptroller, 1934-1954; Treasurer, 1954-1973
- Cheney, Howell: Trustee, 1912-1925, 1930-1940
- Furniss, Edgar S.: Trustee, 1930-1940
- Ham, Roswell Gray: President, 1937-1957
- Harvey, Elbert: Trustee, 1926-1948
- Hazen, Maynard T.: Trustee, 1932-1942, 1945-1955
- Henderson, Philip E.: Comptroller, 1931-1934
- Hyde, Henry K.: Trustee, 1929-1933
- Kendall, Henry Plimpton: Trustee, 1926-1946
- Keyes, Rowena Keith (Class of 1902): Trustee, 1933-1938
- Maquire, Mary Hume (Class of 1918): Trustee, 1928-1937
- Morrison, Alvah: trustee, 1931-1941; President of the Board of Trustees, 1934-1941
- Potter, Rockwell Harmon: Trustee, 1912-1938
- Purington, Florence (Class of 1886): Trustee, 1925-1947
- Stackpole, Egbert Ernest: Comptroller, 1928-1931; Assistant Treasurer, 1931
- White, Edward N.: Trustee, 1920-1938
- Wiggin, Rohl C.: Trustee, 1934-1939
- Woolley, Mary Emma: President, 1901-1937
The first reference to the budget as out of balance during this period is in minutes of a meeting of the Executive and Finance Committees on February 11, 1935. Minutes of the June 11, 1938 meeting reveal that the College’s operating budget deficit reached its highest level of $69,267.67 for the 1936/37 academic year. According to minutes of the November 7, 1940 meeting, however, the budget for 1939/40 was in the black once again.
Of particular note in these records are minutes of the June 18, 1932 meeting concerning a survey of the administrative organization of the College and the June 10, 1933 meeting reporting on a 10% reduction in the salaries of non-academic staff and maintenance and dormitory workers. The June 18, 1932 minutes report that the faculty voluntarily gave up sabbatical leaves involving expenses to the College for “at least one year”. Minutes of the November 7, 1934 meeting describe “salary zones” established for faculty and a new system of handling promotions and new appointments. Minutes of the March 30, 1935 meeting contain a report by the Educational Survey Committee which examined the College’s educational program in an effort to reduce expenditures for academic salaries by at least 10% of the budget for 1934-1935. The creation of and recommendations by a faculty committee to advise President Woolley about the reorganization of educational program are discussed in minutes of the November 7, 1935 and January 28, 1936 meetings. Minutes of the March 11, 1936 meeting contain a report of a meeting by the chairmen of academic departments concerning additional efforts to cut the costs of the College’s educational program.
The minutes also highlight the College’s accomplishments during this era despite its financial condition. Mount Holyoke officials celebrated the Centenary of the College with a variety of programs and events; completed the construction of a new physics building (the present Shattuck Hall), an addition to the library, the Abbey Hall dormitory, and a new heating plant; expanded and remodeled the College chapel; purchased and improved buildings in South Hadley Center; and bought the Mary Lyon birthplace property in Buckland, Massachusetts. Support for a portion of this work came from several significant bequests, including gifts from Emily Abbey Gill and the estate of Mary Mandelle, and gifts from the General Education Board, which distributed funds from John D. Rockefeller.
References from “Book C” of minutes, November 4, 1925-June 9, 1934
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 8, 1929:
“The annual report from the Comptroller was presented by Mr. Stackpole, who emphasized the fact that at the close of the college year, June 30, 1929, the college was free from debt.”
“Miss Bruyn presented the following resolutions from the college fund committee, an advisory group working with her in coordinating all money-raising activities:
1. Resolved, that it is the sense of this committee that the college in making plans for financing proposed new buildings should give priority to the need of academic buildings, preeminently the addition to the library and at least a wing of the physical-chemical building.
2. Resolved, that it shall be the policy of this college in making plans for financing any major building operation to include, in addition to building and equipment costs, the raising of a sum for maintenance which will be twenty per cent of the total estimated cost, and that no building operations will be begun until such a sum has been guaranteed.
VOTED: to authorize the Secretary to notify the Fund Committee that their resolutions have been received and will be taken into consideration by the Board of Trustees in the further development of the campus.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee, March 5, 1930:
“Miss Woolley presented a recommendation from the Administrative Group that student rates for board, room, and tuition be increased to one thousand dollars ($1,000), the increase to be divided between the operation and maintenance account and the academic account, the increase to go into effect with the class entering in the fall of 1931. Discussion followed and it was the sense of the committee that this increase should be made.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 6, 1930:
p. 184-185 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 19, 1931:
“Miss Woolley read a letter from Anders J. Kjoller, head electrician of the college, concerning certain changes which might be made in the power plant, and which in his estimation would save the colleges a considerable amount of money.
VOTED: to refer this letter to Messrs. French and Hubbard and ask them to secure such figures along this line, or along others, which would make for a saving for the college.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee, November 5, 1931:
“The question of state savings insurance was presented by Mr. Henderson who felt that the college should do more toward helping the men employes [sic.] of the college with their savings.
VOTED: that Mr. Henderson be requested to bring in to the Board some plan of savings bank insurance as it might be applied to the men employed the college other than the faculty.
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 5, 1931:
“The Annual Report from the Treasurer and from the Finance Committee was presented by Mr. Harvey . . . .Mr. Harvey reported that the Finance Committee had set aside approximately $250.00 to meet the cost of the physics wing and that the contractors thought that the cost would fall well within that amount. Mr. Harvey said, also, that there had been some shrinkage in the college income due to the depression but that on the whole the record had been good, i.e., shrinkage of less than 5%. Mr. Harvey asked, in behalf of the Finance Committee, for an expression of opinion with regard to the desirability at this time of investing new money in good common stocks which can be purchased at unusually attractive prices. Mr. Kendall and Mr. Childs favored this suggestion.”
“The report from the Fund Committee was presented by Miss Bruyn who emphasized especially the emergency need of additional funds for scholarship aid for the current year. Several members of the Board immediately promised individual gifts amounting to a thousand dollars ($1,000).
The possibility of underwriting the amount needed for additional scholarship aid was suggested.
VOTED: to authorize the Chairman to appoint a committee of three trustees to investigate the possibility of underwriting a sum to be used by the college for special scholarship grants of loans during the current year.
VOTED: that at the discretion of the Trustees free general tuition (not to include charges for courses in practical music) may be granted to undergraduates who have been residents of South Hadley for three years before the date of their admission to the college, provided they are able to satisfy the full requirements for admission without condition; and this grant may be continued through their college course, provided they maintain diploma grade and conform to the regulations of the college and continue to be residents of South Hadley.”
“Miss Woolley stated that there had been a number of requests from members of the present sophomore and junior classes for remission of the $100 increase in rates which becomes effective for these classes in 1932.”
p. 230-231 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Finance and Executive Committee, January 15, 1932:
p. 232 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 9, 1932:
p. 235-237, 245, 247 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 18, 1932:
“The report from the Comptroller was presented by Mr. Henderson. He called attention to the fact that it was probable the current fiscal year would close without a deficit. He further stated that the budget as prepared for 1932-1933 showed a surplus of $10; that there is no cut in academic salaries; that there may be further saving in labor costs; and that big savings had been made in food and fuel costs.”
p. 254-259 (photocopied)
“Miss Allyn reported that the Board of Advisers had voted to give up sabbatical leaves involving expense to the college, for at least one year.
VOTED: to authorize Miss Allyn to express to the Board of Advisers the appreciation of the trustees for the action taken with regard to the giving up of sabbatical leaves.
VOTED: to refer to the Education Committee, with power, the question of the granting of sabbatical leaves for the following year.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 9, 1932:
p. 266-267 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 9, 1933:
p. 271-273 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 10, 1933:
p. 286-289 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 7, 1933:
“Mr. Kendall stated that he favored the policy of making loans without interest to students and recommended that ‘loans be made without interest, but that after graduation, unpaid loans may bear interest at the discretion of the Finance Committee.’
VOTED: to refer to the Finance Committee, with power, the recommendation that loans be made without interest, but that after graduation unpaid loans may bear interest at the discretion of the Finance Committee.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 14, 1934:
p. 317-318 (photocopied)
References from “Book D” of minutes, October 16, 1934-June 7, 1941
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 7, 1934 :
p. 5-7 (photocopied)
“Miss Woolley reported that a request had come to the Education Committee from the Conference Committee of the Faculty that the trustees not lose sight of the desirability of the early resumption of the granting of sabbatical leaves of absence. She said that the Education Committee wished to assure the faculty of their realization of the importance of sabbatical leaves of absence and their wish to resume them as soon as financial conditions would permit.”
“The report from the Fund Committee was presented by the Field Secretary. Miss Bruyn reported that for the last few years the college has been unable to offer a concert course because of lack of funds, and said that the Fund Committee had been trying without success to interest some one to underwrite such a course. She said that an alumna hoped through a member of the National Music League of America to induce the Carnegie Corporation of underwrite concert courses for several colleges and stated that Mount Holyoke had been asked to call together representatives from fifteen or twenty colleges to consider a plan with the National Music League and the Carnegie Corporation.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive and Finance Committees, February 11, 1935:
p. 19-21 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 5, 1935:
p. 22-34, 36-38 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 20, 1935:
p. 40-47 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 8, 1935:
p. 57-70 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 7, 1935:
p. 75-81 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, January 28, 1936:
p. 85-90 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 11, 1936:
p. 93-101, 108-109 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, June 16, 1936:
p. 119-125 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 5, 1937:
p. 144-149 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 12, 1937:
p. 171-174 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 11, 1938:
p. 209-211 (photocopied)
Number of free tuition scholarships given to South Hadley residents limited to twenty-five at any one time.
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 17, 1939:
“The report of the Education Committee was presented by Mr. Ham. In presenting the academic salary budget for the year 1939-1940, he said that if a few months ago he had been aware of the necessity for reducing the budget for the coming year, he could have presented a smaller salary budget at this time. There are various ways in which this might be done another year, such as by a percentage cut in all salaries as was done in 1935-1936 or by decreasing the number of faculty in the lower ranks. The latter could be managed with no loss of efficiency as Mount Holyoke has a high percent of teachers to students. The rule of tenure, however, makes it impossible to reduce the numbers in the higher ranks of the teaching faculty. A number of retirements will, however, take care of a portion of that problem. He estimated that there could be a saving in the next few years of from seven to ten thousand dollars a year. On the other hand, he hoped to continue the policy of some faculty increases as the savings are made. The present budget is presented on the theory that in order to maintain the academic reputation of the college, the smaller proportion of the savings on the entire budget for the year should be made from the academic budget.”
p. 236-239 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 12, 1939:
p. 250-254 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 9, 1939:
“Mr. Harvey presented the report of the Treasurer . . . . He spoke of the difficulties of the Finance Committee in making investments at this time with low interest rates and the uncertainty as to the effect the war will have on all investments. During the past year, the college met its cash operating expenses, although as the report shows, the total expenses exceeded income by $48,153. Included in these expenses was the $50,000 for amortization of investment in college plant—so that Mr. Harvey felt this statement was a better one than they had been able to presser for the past ten years.”
Mr. Bump in presenting his report said that the past year has been the best for a number of years from the point of view of operating income and expense, due to the upward trend in enrollment and reductions made in maintenance, salaries and expenses. The operating deficit was $48,000 in comparison with $65,000 which was budgeted. Food prices and the cost of oil were lower than had been anticipated. Due to favorable oil contracts and placements of certain food orders, for the present year, the budget will not be materially disturbed even with anticipated increases in costs. Next year we shall probably have to pay higher prices.”
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, March 8, 1940:
“Mr. Ham in presenting the salary budget for 1940-1941 said that of the $100,000 additional income expected next year because of the increase in the tuition rate, about $40,000 will be expended on balancing the college budget; $35,00 for additional scholarships for students unable to meet the increased tuition charges; and $18,000 for improving the faculty personnel and faculty salaries. This amount makes it possible to bring a number of faculty salaries to the minimum amount for each rank. The Trustees voted a number of years ago, to work toward the following scale for salaries, a minimum fee of $4,000 for full Professors $3,000 for Associate Professors and $2,500 for Assistant Professors”. Dr. Ham said he hoped later to make some further increases for full professors.
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, June 8, 1940:
p. 288-291 (photocopied)
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 7, 1940:
“Mr. Harvey presented the printed report of the Finance Committee for the year 1939-1940. He pointed out that for the first time in many years the College closed its books on June 30, 1940 in the black. Some of this improvement in the financial picture was due to increased income because of the new dormitory; income from endowment funds was more than had been anticipated; excellent management on the campus in keeping down expenses also contributed.”
Patricia J. Albright, Archives Librarian, February 24, 2009