Board approves 2019-20 budget

Western’s Board of Governors gave its approval Thursday to a $792.2-million university budget – a document reflecting projected spending of $2.3 million more than this year. With an expected $17.7 million less in revenue, though, the university will draw $14 million from its reserves to balance the budget.

President Amit Chakma told the Board the university is still projecting the same number of faculty and staff in spite of funding challenges.

Two weeks ago, university Senate also endorsed the 2019-20 spending and revenue projections as presented.

In other Board action:

Western gets AA credit rating

Western retained a strong credit rating of “AA Stable,” following a review conducted by Standard & Poor’s in February. The report, received Friday by the Board, cites Western’s “very strong enterprise and financial profiles” and S&P’s expectation that Western will continue its excellent financial health.

The rating is based on a variety of factors, including the university’s “robust financial management policies, history of strong financial performance and high levels of cash and available financial resources,” the S&P report stated. It also cited the stability of administration, strength of faculty and research, moderate debt burden and high rate of student retention.

No smoking, no vaping, no cannabis use

Western’s campus will go completely smoke-free on July 1, and there will be an ongoing, co-ordinated push to make sure the campus community is aware of the ban.

The prohibition against smoking and vaping is the second phase of a campaign to encourage the community to ‘butt out’ while on campus. Last July 1, smokers were limited to lighting up in only six specifically designated outdoor areas.

Smokers on campus will continue to have access to supports that will enable them to quit, Board of Governors was told.

The policy has received endorsement from the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee and Campus Council and has included consultation with health, student, staff and faculty representatives.

It includes an exemption for Indigenous students who burn sweetgrass, sage and tobacco as part of their religious and spiritual practices.

The Board also approved a cannabis policy that follows federal, provincial and municipal law and university non-smoking policy with a ban on smoking cannabis anywhere on campus. The ban also includes a prohibition on growing or smoking cannabis or activating cannabis paraphernalia (hookahs, bongs, vaporizers and grinders) in campus housing.