Professor urges deficit to avert layoffs

University of Western Ontario Faculty Association President Mike Carroll has asked university administrators to continue to look for alternatives to layoffs he says will hit staff hard.

 

“There will be an immense disruption at this university in the next three weeks,” Carroll told Senate last week, referring to the time frame for faculty and support units to hand in final budgets.

 

“Mid-March, when deans hand in their budgets, overwhelmingly they (savings) are going to come from staff reductions. Some staff will be deemed redundant and a number of them will be laid off. People you know will be let go.”

 

Carroll says the Board of Governors’ policy of not running a deficit (the board requires a $2.5 million operating reserve) needs to be reconsidered as a means of lessening the potential for layoffs.

 

“Will they (layoffs) occur, sadly they will,” says Western President Paul Davenport.

 

While some individuals see the board’s policy as overly conservative, Davenport told Senate it is an important means of maintaining financial stability.

 

“Given the uncertainty in our budget picture, now is not the time to be running short-term deficits, which are very likely to turn into long-term deficits and impose difficult financial burdens in future years,” he says.

 

Student senator Arzie Chant says the move towards layoffs “doesn’t make sense” and will not deliver large savings.

 

“What will it mean for the students and their programs,” says Chant. “I worry what it will mean to the quality of service for students who rely on these staff.”

 

Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Fred Longstaffe says this is one of the hardest budgets he’s participated in.

 

“The staff provide so much when it comes to the high quality of education at Western,” he says. “There will be changes to service levels, but there is not one of us who want that to happen.”

 

With Western facing financial challenges, including a $40 million shortfall in operating revenue over the next three years, staff and faculty retirement incentives, tuition hikes and layoffs are seen as ways to minimize the impact.

 

In a budget submission, faculty and support units are typically required to trim three per cent from their previous base budget. In the coming two years that reduction rises to an average of 5.5 per cent – an average of 2.5 per cent depending on the faculty or unit.

 

The added budget reduction in each of next two years for faculties (Ivey is autonomous) includes:

 

Arts and Humanities, 3%; Education, 1%; Engineering, 3.5%; Health Sciences, 3.5%; Information & Media Studies, 3.5%; Law, 3.5%; Medicine & Dentistry, 3.5%; Music, 3%; Science, 1.6%; and Social Science, 1%.

 

The added budget reduction in each of next two years for support units includes:

 

Police – 1%; Human Resources – 1.7%; ITS – 1.8%; Physical Plant – 1.9%; Registrar’s Office – 2%; SGPS, IPB, R&DS – 2.5%; VP External Portfolio – 2.5%; OOP, Secretariat – 2.5%; TSC, Libraries – 3%; Vice-Provost (APPF) – 3%; Internal Audit – 3%; and Financial Services – 3.1%

 

With the provincial government’s five-year Reaching Higher plan coming to an end, highlighted by a $6.2 billion cumulative investment by 2009-10, Longstaffe says the university was anticipating higher costs, but figured it to be a couple years out.

 

“We thought we had two more years to wrestle it to the ground, but that’s been pushed up,” he says. While remaining hopeful regarding further provincial funding, he admits there are “still concerns” surrounding what level of funding will be forthcoming.

 

NEW PROGRAMS

Senate approved new programs set to begin in September, including:

·        School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies – collaborative MSc and PhD programs in Molecular Imaging.

 .        Department of Economics – Honors Specialization in Economics, Politics and Philosophy.

·        Faculty of Social Science – Honors Specialization in Global Economics.

·        King’s University College – Honors Specialization in Criminology.

·        Brescia University College – Major in Canadian Social and Environmental History.

·        Brescia University College – Honors Specialization in Food Science and Technology, in partnership with Faculty of Science.

 

 

SIX NATIONS POLYTECHNIC

Western has become a consortium partner in the Native University Program (NUP) offered at the Six Nations Polytechnic, along with McMaster, Brock, Guelph, Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier Universities.

 

Western will recognize for credit, for the purposes of relevant degree programs, all successful university credit courses completed in the NUP. Western currently is offering Health Sciences 1000: Health and Wellness at the Six Nations Polytechnic.

 

The objectives of the partnership seeks to initiate community-based and community-controlled aboriginal post-secondary education programs and improve aboriginal persons’ accessibility to, retention in, and graduation from post-secondary programs that are appropriate to the needs of the students and their communities.

 

 

NEW AWARDS

Senate has approved new scholarships and awards, including:

* The David Campbell Ontario Graduate Scholarship (School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Education) – to be awarded to a full-time graduate student pursuing a Master’s or PhD degree in Education. The scholarship, valued at $5,000, was made possible through a donation from David R. Campbell (BA ’38).

 

* The Dr. Alfred Jay Medical Biophysics Award (School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Medical Biophysics) to be awarded to a full-time Masters or Doctoral student in Medical Biophysics who has demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of his or her Medical Biophysics research studies. The award, valued at $1,125, was established by Dr. Alfred W.L. Jay (PhD Biophysics ’71) through Foundation Western.

 

*The P. J. Blake Memorial Award (School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Orthodontics) to be awarded to a full-time graduate student in the Master of Clinical Dentistry (MCID) program who demonstrates compassion, organization and thoughtfulness – qualities shared by P. J. Blake in her many years of service as a staff member at Western. The award, valued at $1,125, was established by gifts from family, friends and colleagues in memory of Patti-Jo (P.J.) Blake through Foundation Western.

 

 

NEW ECONOMIC CHAIR

Senate has approved the Robert W. Hodder Chair in Economic Geology in the Faculty of Science.

 

The new chair is a key component of the Faculty of Science’s Initiative to Enhance Energy Resources and Economic Geology. Led by the Department of Earth Sciences, the chair will play a key role in Western becoming the premier institution in Canada where students can pursue a four-year undergraduate program in economic geology leading to professional registration in the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario.

 

Hodder is Professor Emeritus (Geology/Earth Sciences) at Western and maintains a consulting practice in London. He was a professor of economic geology from 1970 to 1993 and Geology Chair from 1982 to 1990. He has been a leader in development of the department’s Initiative to Enhance Energy Resources and Economic Geology.

 

The chair was made possible through a $800,000 donation (over four years) from Keith Barron (PhD ’97, Geology). Barron is co-founder of Aurelian Resources and Founder of U308 Corp. He has worked in minerals exploration for more than 22 years, primarily in the search for gold and diamonds. 

 

In Canada, his work has included projects in northern Ontario and Quebec, the western Arctic, and the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia. Internationally, Barron, one of the founding members and Past-President of the Western Student Chapter of the Society of Economic Geologists, has worked in Montana and Idaho, Queensland Australia, Venezuela, Ecuador and in the Republic of Kazakhstan.