In the third annual Fiat Lux address, President Mike Mahon reiterated the University of Lethbridge’s response to its Campus Alberta operating grant cut, shared details about the institution’s draft Strategic Plan and spoke to the initiatives that will continue to move the U of L forward.
Mahon said in his address to faculty, staff and students in the University of Lethbridge Theatre that more work is necessary to overcome the 7.3 per cent cut to its provincial operating grant. However, he was optimistic that the U of L would emerge from this challenge in a strong position.
“I know there are sentiments of uncertainty and concern as to how we will realize our way through this without negatively affecting our university or compromising our future,” said Mahon. “I am here today to tell you that we will be successful in this task.”
To date, the U of L has realized reductions of $8.5 million of the $11.8 million cut to the Campus Alberta grant. Mahon said that nine budget advisory committees have been working to find further savings and that those reports would be posted in the coming week.
Mahon said that despite the budget challenges, the University will continue to move forward with purpose to meet its goals, and that the Strategic Plan will be critical in guiding the University.
“Our Strategic Plan and mandate tells us quite clearly who we are and what our priorities are. I’m paraphrasing our Roles and Mandate statement, but at the heart of it, we are a comprehensive academic and research institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs and we conduct pure and applied research. Everything we do at the University should support this. All of our activities and our staff, from administrative units to academic units, should support this.”
The draft Strategic Plan outlines five familiar priorities, shared Mahon. They are to excel as a comprehensive university, continue enhancing the student experience, promote access to quality post-secondary education, build our internal community while enhancing those valuable, productive relationships with external communities and enhance the sustainability of the University.
Despite the budget challenge, Mahon reminded the University community that there were many strengths the U of L could rely on as it moves forward. These include strong enrolment numbers, an excellent national reputation, new student focused facilities, strong links with the Lethbridge community and exceptional faculty and staff.
In addressing important initiatives that would help guide and build the University in the future, Mahon pointed to the continued activity of the General Faculties Council (GFC) Aboriginal Education Committee and its work on the establishment of an FNMI Centre on campus, the Academic Quality Assurance review and the establishment of a significant and comprehensive fundraising campaign. He spent a significant portion of his address speaking to the planning and purpose of the Destination Project.
While the most significant element of this new facility will be to house research areas, teaching spaces and laboratories for a significant number of our science programs, Mahon said the activities that will take place in the facility will be far-reaching.
“Imagine it as a hub for innovation; a place where science research and teaching are conducted and made accessible not only to post-secondary students but also to school-aged children and their families and anyone in our community who wishes to learn,” said Mahon. “A place where high school students can refine their understanding of, and ignite their passion for, science, launching the next phase of their educational journeys. A place where Albertans can gather to learn more about the world in which they live.”
Mahon stated the Destination Project will also include a revitalization of University Hall, which will strengthen the University’s commitment to liberal education – a foundation of the U of L.
“The construction of a new science facility and the revitalization of University Hall provide a great opportunity to help us define liberal education at the University of Lethbridge for the 21st century,” said Mahon. “This can be accomplished not only through the creation of a hub for the humanities and social sciences but also through the creation of cross-disciplinary research opportunities for students.”
Mahon concluded his speech by reiterating that the U of L will continue to flourish because it will maintain its focus on its fundamental values, including its people, programs and goals.
“If we not only use our Strategic Plan, but also our Academic and Research plans as guides in setting priorities, our budget challenges will not prevent us from achieving these goals.”