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From the Director:  Good News and Bad News

(Photo - Persis Drell)

This has been a week of good news and bad news.

While we in lab management do not yet know what funding SLAC will receive from the stimulus package, all indications are very positive that both our scientific programs and our site infrastructure will benefit significantly. I believe this will present great opportunities to position the lab for its future, and I look forward to sharing more details with you as we learn them in the coming weeks. While we do not yet know our fiscal year 2009 funding level, I remain quite optimistic about the eventual budget appropriations for this year.

However, there was bad news this week as well. Due to the University’s need to take deeper budget cuts than originally planned, the president and provost have announced that there will be no general salary increases for either faculty or staff in FY10. This, of course, includes us. We had all hoped to retain at least a small salary program. However, that will not be possible in FY10.

Our dual connection to the Department of Energy and Stanford has some SLAC staff concerned that the lab is hit with "double jeopardy" when it comes to salary. In 2003, the University had a salary freeze that affected SLAC as well as main campus. The following year, everyone at the lab took 4 days without pay to avoid layoffs. The result: SLAC staff was hit two years in a row.

I want to assure you that the senior management of the laboratory has always worked very hard to mitigate the effects of such anomalous years by using the flexibility we have within the University’s salary program to offer larger-than-average raises when possible to offset the bad years. Still, the news of no salary program will only make life more difficult for those of you who are already experiencing financial strains stemming from the current economic situation.

As a lab, we can see a potentially well-funded, creative and productive era ahead. However, as individuals, the challenges may be more significant. I want to acknowledge the frustration some of you may feel in the coming months as we experience steady lab funding but zero salary growth. It is perhaps small comfort that layoffs and salary freezes are the norm for many sectors of our economy this year. However, I take pride in knowing we are being acknowledged for the quality of our efforts at SLAC and that we have funding to continue pursuing our work and contributing to science during these turbulent times.

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, March 6, 2009