April 11, 2013
At the Community Update held on March 27, 2013, I committed to developing a values-based process to guide the University through the operating budget adjustments that we as a community must participate in. In his presentation, our Provost, Dr. Andrew Hakin, outlined the process through which those values will be determined and endorsed, and the timeline under which we would conduct this process.
The values that will guide us are those that we, as a community, have collectively developed over multiple years, through many inclusive, collegial processes. They are a distillation of the values that are the foundation of our Strategic Plan, our Academic Plan and our Research Plan. Most importantly, the values are reflective of our community, and have been endorsed by both governance bodies of the University, the General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors.
While much work has been done to develop the 2013/14 University budget, there is much yet to do. Using these values as a compass we will over the course of the next month develop and debate options and ultimately bring forward the 2013/14 consolidated budget for the University of Lethbridge. Using the pre-existing budget development entities and processes I expect to make a recommendation to the Board of Governors to approve the 2013/14 consolidated budget in mid-May to allow the Comprehensive Institutional Plan (CIP) to be submitted to Enterprise and Advanced Education for the May 31 deadline. The budget is a key component of the CIP.
At the end of this message I have included the values statement that has been presented, vigorously debated and refined by Deans' Council, Executive Directors' Council, President's Executive, the Budget Advisory Committee, the Budget Priorities Advisory Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, General Faculties Council, and the Board of Governors. I encourage you to read the document.
The Budget Advisory Committee will begin its deliberations on the budget adjustments, which include reductions as well as revenue opportunities, on Saturday morning. Their recommendations will be reviewed and refined by the Budget Priorities Advisory Committee. The Strategic Planning Committee will review the proposed adjustments and provide guidance on whether the proposed adjustments are respective of our values and to help the University ensure that the adjustments being proposed are not being made solely for expediency and do not compromise the long term development of the University as it relates to our priorities and aspirations as an academic community. President's Executive will be fundamental through this process and will review all of the proposed adjustments before the budget is presented to GFC and to the Board of Governors.
While this process will be challenging and must be conducted in a very compressed time period, I do encourage you to continue to provide your feedback and ideas via this website.
To date, I have received over 50 submissions from U of L community members on the Letter of Expectation as well as suggested budget adjustments. A fair summary of those ideas has been posted to this web page
for your review. I am grateful for the thoughtful and considered ideas that have come forward to date. All ideas that are proposed will be provided to the Budget Advisory Committee.
On April 23 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Students' Union Ballroom Level 3, we will host another Community Update to discuss the budget progress made to date. I am hopeful that there will be additional clarity with regard to the Letter of Expectation by that time. As well, I hope to be able to share with you the University's response to the Letter to Enterprise and Advanced Education.
This continues to be a stressful and challenging time for our sector and our University. I am buoyed however by the positive support and collective will of our University community to work together to address our current challenges. Our Board of Governors, our General Faculties Council, the Senate, the alumni of the University and our community have been rallying in their advocacy and support of the University of Lethbridge. I am proud of and grateful to members of our academic community who have engaged in public debate and civil dialogue on these issues. I am proud of our students who have actively engaged with government in a positive way and have regularly exercised their rights to express themselves and their opinions. I am assured through this very tangible support that our future remains ours to determine and is bright.
Dr. Mike Mahon
President and Vice-Chancellor
Reaffirming our Values:
A University Response to the 2013-14 Provincial Budget
We commit to maintaining the forward vision of the University of Lethbridge. Our Strategic priorities remain priorities independently of the financial challenges our University encounters. To take us to our desired future the University will pursue its established strategic directions and identified priorities.
The Alberta Provincial Budget 2013-14 has imposed severe reductions and thus introduced significant financial challenges for the post-secondary sector in our province and for the University of Lethbridge. A reduction to our University's Campus Alberta Grant of 7.3% will require the University to eliminate $11.9 million from its continuing operating budget.
An increase of 2% to the Campus Alberta Grant for 2013-14 had previously been communicated by the Government of Alberta to the University, as part of a three year funding commitment. This was presented with the intention of enhancing future financial planning and sustainability. Although it became increasingly clear during the 2012-13 fiscal year that the 2% increase was becoming less likely, the University, and others in the post-secondary sector, were not informed or warned by the Ministry of the deep financial reduction that has been applied to our continuing operating funds.
In managing the impact of this severe funding reduction, members of University senior administration have committed to clear, timely, and transparent communication to all members of the University. Our first order of business is to enter into a process that will address our required reductions. To do this our institutional values will be reaffirmed and will be used to guide and influence all budget related decisions and processes that lie ahead. The processes by which these values will be endorsed and reaffirmed by the University and by which the 2013-14 budget will be established are provided within Appendix 1 of this document. They follow closely the paths already utilized for budget approval within our University.
Fortunately, in the last few years much work has been completed with respect to the values of our institution. They are contained within the documents that provide the framework for the operation and the establishment of priorities for the University. These documents include our current Strategic Plan, Academic and Research Plans, and our Comprehensive Institutional Plan. All of these documents were approved utilizing the full scope of the University bicameral governance framework. Although they were created and approved at times in which significantly different financial conditions were anticipated, these documents enshrine both our values and our priorities as an institution. These values and priorities are independent of our immediate financial future as the long-term future of our three-campus University extends well beyond immediate budgetary issues.
To intentionally follow our priorities will require all constituents of our University to work together. Working together provides strength. As we address our financial challenges we will strive to ensure that all groups within the University are engaged in the protection of the academic integrity and the future of our institution. There are no aspects of the University's operation that will be excluded from consideration in constructing the path by which we will best ensure the continuing financial sustainability of our institution. Indeed, in moving towards this desired outcome it will be necessary to explore all possible operational collaborations to achieve efficiencies. New forms of revenue generation will be considered an important component of any plan to mitigate our financial challenges.
The values presented below are purposely non-prioritized as they provide a holistic framework to guide and influence the budget processes and decisions that lie ahead. Underlying these values is a commitment to open, transparent and timely communication to our University community. And fundamentally, as president Sam Smith asserted in his August 1, 1967 address to the students of summer session, our core commitment is still "to the individual student as a person and as of ultimate worth.
Our people define our University and are our greatest strength
People are the essential resource of our institution and as such the University will strive to preserve employment. All University employee groups will be treated with fairness and with respect in all that lies ahead in our work to maintain our student centred focus and to ensure the continuing financial sustainability of our institution.
High quality is central to all that we do
Our commitment to maintaining high quality undergraduate and graduate academic programmes is key to our University mission to build a better society. High quality instruction and teaching are essential to this commitment. Research and creative activity are also key to our mission and their vitality and vibrancy serve as a differentiating feature of our institution and a central part of our culture as a comprehensive academic and research institution. High quality facilities and services support our mission and best serve our students, staff, and academic staff.
Access to our University is a foundational value
As a Comprehensive Academic and Research University, dedicated to liberal education, that was born out of the needs and aspirations of our local communities we are committed to providing student access to our high quality academic programs throughout the province without creating unnecessary financial barriers. Community engagement with our University and community use of our facilities play a role in defining us as a public institution.