Faculties cope with budget cuts

University District

Faculties brainstorm raised tuition, increased enrollment to combat cuts

Last week, Principal Tom Williams announced Queen’s will make a 15 per cent budget cut over the next three years. Ontario universities have faced budget cuts eight of the last 10 years.
Last week, Principal Tom Williams announced Queen’s will make a 15 per cent budget cut over the next three years. Ontario universities have faced budget cuts eight of the last 10 years.

As Queen’s prepares for a three-year budget cut, the University’s faculties and schools are making preparations to cut costs and raise revenue in hopes of balancing their budgets.

In an e-mail to staff and faculty last week, Principal Tom Williams announced a 15 per cent budget cut will be applied to all faculties, schools and administrative units over the next three years, starting in the 2009-10 academic year.

Dean of the School of Business David Saunders said his faculty has been working since July to deal with the 15 per cent cut.

“We’ve created two cost-cutting committees within the School of Business,” he said. “We’re looking within those, the possibility of two to three per cent reduction by looking at dealing with supplies and the way we purchase things. We purchase a lot of materials to run our programs and those are very big ticket items.”

Saunders said Ontario universities have had to deal with budget cuts for eight of the last 10 years.

“You get pretty good at it after a while. This is the time to look at things differently,” he said. “What we’re going to do is do a mix of cost cutting and increased enrollment. At the moment we’re looking to increase the commerce class provided we get the funding for the extension of our building.”

Dean of the Faculty of Law William Flanagan said the deans and vice-principals who voted unanimously for the 15 per cent cut knew they needed to address the financial challenges facing the University head on.

“It’s important that we strive to maintain a balanced budget, and to even with the 15 per cent cut we, for a period of time, will not have a balanced budget. There will have to be some deficit financing just to get us through,” he said. “There’s no question that we had to make a decision. Our expenses exceed our revenue, and that’s not sustainable.”

Flanagan said the faculty will gain revenue from a tuition increase in the 2009-10 academic year, which is consistent with the provincial policy for professional schools.

“We’re in a good position at the law school [and] we will be seeing some new tuition revenue, increase by eight per cent for incoming and four per cent for new students. That tuition revenue will be directed to the cut,” he said. “We’ll make some additional cuts, but by deciding not to grow our faculty, we should be able to manage the 15 per cent cut and shield any of our programs or staff from additional cuts.”

Flanagan said he had originally hoped to hire three new faculty members for the 2009-10 academic year, but will now only be able to hire one.

Flanagan said the majority of the faculty’s $5.4 million operating budget is tied up in faculty salaries.

“The bulk of our budget is faculty and staff salaries, probably 80 per cent of our budget,” he said. “The rest goes towards other expenses such as research support, recruitment costs, faculty events, conference support, maintenance of the classrooms, renovation maintenance and office expenses.”

Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Lewis Tomalty said the faculty doesn’t have a specific plan to deal with the budget cuts yet, but is looking at all aspects of their operating budget.

“We’re really approaching it from a broad mechanism and not looking at it as “Here would be an area to save dollars,’” he said. “The important thing is that our educational programs are front and center. Whatever we do in finding savings in the faculty are mandated to maintain the equivalent level for teaching and teaching support.”

Tomalty said the faculty is starting to work at the senior management level to brainstorm areas where they can find savings. From there, they’ll work with the faculty’s individual schools: nursing, rehabilitation and medicine.

“We’ve got down to the departmental level, which is where the cuts are going to be felt quite significantly,” he said. “They don’t have large budgets and are primarily for personnel, faculty and support staff. Within their overall budgets, they don’t have a lot of room to maneuver.”

Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science Kimberly Woodhouse said in order to meet the University’s target, the faculty will vary the percentage of their budget cuts year by year.

“The Faculty of Applied Science is proposing to the University that we take a five per cent, three per cent and seven per cent in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12,” she told the Journal via e-mail. “The staggering of the cuts in this fashion will give us the opportunity to put mechanisms in place to mitigate the impact.”

Woodhouse said decisions as to what the budget cuts will come out of will happen next year.

“As to where the 15 per cent will come from, at this point in time I am meeting with the students, staff and faculty members to put the strategy in place for the budget meetings in January 2009.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Alistair MacLean, Dean of the Faculty of Education Rosa Bruno-Jofré and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Janice Deakin didn’t respond to the Journal’s request for interviews.

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