New fund targets significant strategic projects

Western leadership will have more ability to capitalize on significant strategic projects, such as securing national research facilities or investing in global partnerships, thanks to the creation of a new $250-million fund, the Board of Governors announced at its regular meeting last week.

The Major Strategic Opportunities Fund is intended “to seek and seize new major initiatives which have the potential of having transformational impact on the institution.”

The money comes from returns on the investment of non-endowed funds in the university’s various investment pools. The fund will not be used for general university operations or strategic initiatives routinely supported through the operating budget.

For years, the university has allocated one-time resources to support various strategic initiatives as needed. However, this new fund offers both the structure and flexibility to expand that process for lasting impact.

All allocations from the fund will require approval from the Board of Governors, after first being recommended by the President, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and Vice-President (Operations and Finance).

Board Chair Paul Jenkins said the process ensures continued good stewardship and accountability. He called the fund an “important step forward” in providing Western with the tools to take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise.

Eligible projects that could draw from the fund include securing a major national or international research facility; establishing strategic and deeper collaborative academic and research partnerships with an international partner; funding research initiatives; and acquiring properties.

Although the fund will not be endowed, it will be managed similar to an endowment so that it continues to support these opportunities in perpetuity. Efforts will be made to grow the fund gradually so that it can respond to future opportunities that may require larger investments.

The fund will have a minimum reserve of $100 million. Annual allocations will be a minimum $10 million with a maximum of $50 million per year. Any major investments exceeding that amount can be funded through multi-year allocations.

In other Board action:

No signs, no thanks

Federal, provincial and municipal candidates are now barred from posting election signs on university property, Western’s Board of Governors announced at its June meeting.

The ban replaces a policy that once restricted election signs to interior locations on bulletin boards or in floor displays, if approved by Facilities Management.

For University Students’ Council (USC) elections, a lengthy list of signage rules has been replaced by a blanket statement that the USC election guidelines about signs will apply.

Farewell and welcome

During his final meeting, President Amit Chakma’s thanked members of the Board of Governors “for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime” to support the university and help shape it into a world-leading academic and research institution. He told the group he is happy now to take on the role, as other past presidents have done, as “chief cheerleader.”

“When you give 10 years of your prime time to an institution, I have absolutely no hesitation about telling you Western is now a part of my life,” he said.