Dear members of the University of Lethbridge Community,
The University of Lethbridge is currently developing a budget for its 2019/20 fiscal year. As it does every fall, the Budget Advisory Committee creates a fiscal plan that ensures the University of Lethbridge is able to meet its mandate to deliver, in a sustainable way, an excellent student experience, academic programming, conduct comprehensive research and add value to the communities it serves.
The budget process is undertaken in the face of unknown variables and our work is dependent on a number of factors. What will be the Campus Alberta Grant amount? Will the University receive funding from the Province for the current tuition freeze? What will the outcome of negotiations between the University and the employee bargaining units on campus? Will the University receive “lights-on” (operating) funding for the new science and academic building (Destination Project)? It is because of variables like these that the University undertakes a scenario-based approach in its planning.
This year, budget uncertainty is higher than normal as a provincial election is expected for this coming spring. While it is likely that the current NDP government will introduce a budget this spring, it is not a certainty the budget will be passed before Albertans head to the polls. This, coupled with on-going financial challenges facing the province, means the University is struggling to arrive at a balanced budget.
Over the course of the time I have been President, our university has been presented with harsh budget realities. These included having to reconcile with a 4.9 per cent cut to our Campus Alberta operating grant in 2013-14. Through it all, the University has managed these tight budget times by creating budgets that respect the values of “People, Quality and Access” – that our people are our most valuable resource, that quality of teaching and research is paramount and that we remain accessible to the students and communities we serve.
Senior administration strives to be transparent about the budget process, our financial position and challenges. This has been accomplished through town hall budget presentations, public communications, budget briefs posted to the University website and updates to bodies like the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union, the Graduate Students' Association, General Faculties Council, Strategic Planning Committee and the Board of Governors.
As we expect the 2019/20 budget year to be arduous and exceptionally uncertain, the University will be making information more accessible and understandable for our community. A new budget website will endeavour to fully explain our budget process and philosophy, as well as outline and explain the budget challenges our university faces. This website will not replace the way we engage with our community regarding the budget. We will still engage with our faculty, staff and students through town halls, public budget briefings and other appropriate channels. The new website will complement these activities. As this site is a SharePoint site, you will need to use your uleth.ca log-in credentials to access it. Once on the site, you will be able to follow it and receive notification of updates added to the site.
The website will offer budget information in new formats while continuing to provide access to detailed budget briefs. Also, as we learn more details about the variables that impact our budget, we will share that information publicly.
This will be a demanding and unpredictable year. However, I know that based on the issues the University has overcome in the past, we will rise to any future complications.
Dr. Mike Mahon
President and Vice Chancellor