Friday, March 6, 2009

Big Picture Stuff.

I just returned from the annual College of Biological Science (CBS) Financial meeting. Here, the President of the University, Alastair Summerlee, and the Vice-President (Academic), Maureen Mancuso, presented the current financial situation of the University and the College.

I have to admit that I felt my heartbeat increase rapidly when they started explaining the fact that the University of Guelph may be forced to declare bankruptcy in 2010. This will follow the filing of Laurier and the University of Toronto both in the same position. Imagine Ontario without most of its major institutions of higher education. We're in tough economic times, but this is going to do nothing to improve the situation. Both the Federal and Provincial Governments must respond to this and support the educational system either in the form of grant money or by extending the dates for declaring financial status.

To overcome this situation, the University needs to deal with a $47.7 million dollar deficit over the next five years. The two major areas that will be seeing change are the pension programme and the structure of degrees. The Provincial Government is leaning towards creating a province-wide pension standard. This would work the way the Teacher's Pension works. Safety in numbers and consistency across the board. I'm nowhere near retirement, so I haven't put much thought into all of this, but savings and investments will definitely be on my mind now. As for the degree structure, majors will be realigned to use resources efficiently and minors will be removed from the entire University. Recently, Doug has led the committee to completely restructure the Faculty of Environmental Sciences (FES). This process was difficult at times, but an overall success. I talked to him about this today because I was wondering why they were so on-the-ball with making these changes before this idea was strongly suggested across the rest of the school. He mentioned that the restructuring of FES was not driven by the financial situation, but by the way students are attracted to the University and what they require from major programmes. I thought this was interesting because these changes were seen as positive, forward-moving ideas. I hope the rest of the University will be as successful is pulling together as FES was.

Anyway, since working at the Athletic Centre (AC) for years in the midst of a financial scandel and crisis, I realized just how distant from one another various sectors of the University had been. Noone even noticed that thousands of dollars were being skimmed off the top of the AC funds until it literally fell in on top of itself due to lack of upkeep. I have always hoped that a cohesive, efficient system could be designed to bring us all together. People will be happier in their jobs and the entire place will work together more smoothly.

I'm thinking big picture here and that's the way it's gonna be for me from now on.

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