President Cade addresses economic climate

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade discusses the uncertain economic climate in relation to the University community

Dr. Bill Cade

We are all aware that we are living in very uncertain economic times. There are daily stories about businesses scaling back budgets, laying off workers and even closing their doors. I want to assure you that our Board, Senior Administration and the University Budget Committee are planning very cautiously for next year with the assumption that our provincial operating grant funding will increase by 6 per cent and our enrolments will remain stable.

The Department of Advanced Education and Technology has informed us that we should plan with this budget increase in mind until, and if, we are informed otherwise. The University Budget Committee has also considered other funding scenarios and we are, of course, monitoring closely the Alberta provincial government budget and the anticipated funding announcements to post-secondary institutions. The 6 per cent increase depends on the provincial economy and how that translates into the overall Government of Alberta budget. We will learn more about this in the coming weeks and keep everyone informed.

The overall economy is something that we have little control over, but our ability to meet and maintain our enrolment is very much in our hands. We can ensure we have the right number of students in the right programs come September. I understand that applications are fewer in number from graduating high school students for post-secondary education at many institutions, including the U of L.

This is where we can actively influence the future of our University. It is important we focus on our recruitment practices and continue to enlighten high school graduates about all the opportunities the U of L provides. We must also concentrate on retaining the students we have and continue to provide them with the highest-quality education possible. This means that everybody, our entire staff and faculty, has the opportunity and responsibility to enhance the student experience even more so.

There are many factors that play into the enrolment scenario; among them is the growth of other degree opportunities within Alberta. As we all know, our students are our ambassadors, both within the University and beyond. They will decide individually whether to follow their degree path to its conclusion here, and they influence their peers about the U of L experience.

I believe we do a very good job of engaging our students already and I am confident in the quality of our faculty members and our program offerings, but there is always room for improvement. All of us have worked to better the U of L continually over our 42-year history. In my opinion this has resulted in the creation of one of the best comprehensive and student-oriented university environments. Recently released data from CUSC affirms that our students believe this too.

We have carved a unique identity here at the U of L and it is one that connects with its students as well as the southern Alberta community. The recently held Donor Recognition Gala showcased the new Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building. This event once again highlighted the valuable relationship that exists between the U of L and the community and allowed us to thank our donors for their commitment to supporting our students and faculty and furthering research.

We have so much to be proud of here at the University and by always searching for innovative ways to engage our students and connect with the community, we will ensure the continued growth of the institution.

Please remember, "quality will prevail," especially during times of economic uncertainties.

We have a very high quality University, but we must never rest on our laurels.

Again, please stay tuned and we will keep you informed of funding and enrolment issues as we receive the information.

This column originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of the Legend