Campus Life

Open Mike - Budget talk is on everyone's mind

We are now nearly a month into our spring semester and it’s great to have everyone back on campus and immersed in their teaching, research and work.

As I make my way around the University, the common theme of many conversations is the development of our budget and by extension, what can we expect from the new provincial government when it hands down its first budget in the spring.

We continue to move through our budget process and, as noted in last week’s budget update, will provide a series of updates as the process continues.

The process of constructing the University's budget, as well as anticipation for the provincial budget, is dominating conversation.

It is very important for us to be transparent and communicative of the realities of how the University budget is developed and the challenges faced in forming a budget in demanding fiscal times. All the while, we will steadfastly maintain our focus on the three core values of people, quality education and access to education. These values have and will continue to drive the decision-making process.

If you’ve had an opportunity to go through last week’s budget update, you will have noticed a new Voluntary Exit/Retirement Incentive Package as one of the highlighted items. This package has been modified from previous years and is directed at both faculty and staff who may be thinking about whether or not it is time for this transition in their lives. If you are at all interested, it is worth reading the document and discussing its options with your supervisor.

All items related to the development of the University budget can be found on the Budget Website and I urge everyone to visit this page to keep updated on the budget process.

Another ongoing project of significance is the Destination Project and specifically the projected start date for construction of the new Science and Academic Building. We are currently waiting with anticipation for the provincial budget to be announced, which will determine whether or not we can begin this shovel-ready project in the spring.

As exciting as it will be when we are able to break ground on this transformational project, the beginning of construction will also present short term challenges for us on campus with regards to parking and road access. We ask everyone to be patient in the face of these challenges, and we will do our best to provide as much advance notice on any activities that will affect access to areas of campus.

To that end, please make note of the parking update for those who currently park in Lot K and the reassignment plan in place for when the lot will be closed.

The beginning of construction will, of course, be determined by the impending provincial budget. The signals we have received to date from the province are encouraging and the commitment they have made to a two per cent increase to the Campus Operating Grant is something we are optimistic will be realized. However, we cannot be sure of how the budget will affect us until it is actually tabled, sometime in late March or early April. At the same time, in addition to the Campus Operating Grant and Destination Project funding, there are many other aspects to the budget, such as the government’s plans regarding tuition. We will continue to keep you updated on news from the provincial government and implications for our budget development.

It has been a great start to the semester and I urge everyone to look around and participate in one of the many campus events taking place. Your Pronghorns teams are driving towards the Canada West playoffs, there are some outstanding guest lecturers in the offing and Fine Arts always has some intriguing events in the works. Get out and make the most of your University experience.