Message from Acting President John McGrath
At the October 31 budget information sessions, I committed to transparency and timely communications as we navigate through our budgeting process. Part of this commitment is to provide you with a bi-weekly update, sharing what I am able.
Last Wednesday, we received our Campus Alberta Grant letter from the government. The letter confirmed a 7.9 per cent reduction in our base grant. We also met that same day with the Board of Governors (the board) to discuss the budget. During the meeting, the executive team put forward initial proposed strategies for balancing this year’s budget and preparing for expected further reductions next year. The board expressed confidence in our ability to navigate through these challenges and supports our priorities and principles in guiding those decisions. You can read these in the summary of the October 31 information sessions.
While strategies were proposed and discussed with the board, we are waiting for more information about factors that will help inform our future course of action. Included in these factors is the impact a new funding model will have on the university’s 2020/21 Campus Alberta grant. Tactics we put in place for balancing this year’s budget must assist us in working toward building our 2020/21 budget plan.
I want to be clear that, until we have more information, it remains uncertain about how the budget reductions will impact staffing levels. We are continuing to evaluate staffing requirements and the potential need to restructure. I would like everyone to know that if changes are required, they will not take place until early next year. Our priority is to minimize the impact to our students and our people to the greatest extent possible. At the same time, we need to find efficiencies, explore new opportunities for revenue, and transform our operations to improve outcomes. We want to maintain what we can and innovate at the same time.
The Board supports the immediate steps we are taking to reduce costs and inform future budget decisions. These include continuing to look for opportunities to reduce non-salary discretionary costs (travel, consulting, hosting, social events, etc.), eliminating vacant positions and implementing hiring constraint. We are also conducting functional reviews starting with the financial management and the student advising functions. Other reviews will follow. The Provost is also initiating a process to find efficiencies in program delivery by reviewing class sizes, section duplication and instructional hour values. I am hoping that all members of our MacEwan community can find ways to help us reduce costs and find efficiencies.
These are some of the initial pieces of the strategy we will submit to the government on December 2 as part of our budget impact plan. All post-secondary institutions are expected to submit a plan by this date.
I understand that uncertainty can be stressful and I thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue with this process. The board has indicated support for open and transparent communication with the university community. We will continue to share information as we learn more, but in the meantime, please continue to forward your questions or ideas for cost savings and for revenue generation to email@example.com.
In my over 30 years at MacEwan I have seen a lot of change. Our status has recently changed under the Post-secondary Learning Act to a full fledged undergraduate university, we are finalizing our footprint as one single downtown campus, and we have grown in breadth and depth of our academic offerings. We will see more changes in the years ahead. One thing that has remained a priority and a constant for MacEwan is our focus on our students. This is what makes MacEwan special. You have all been a part of this commitment and know that this is appreciated and valued.