Spoulos keeps finding his way back to the U of L

If it wasn't inevitable that Doug Spoulos (BMgt '87) would eventually return to the University of Lethbridge, at the very least it wasn't surprising.

The University's associate vice-president (finance) has a deeply rooted history with the U of L, so it seemed only right that circumstance aligned to bring him into the fold once again in spring 2011. He graduated from the University in 1987, previously worked for the U of L, met his wife on campus and has a stepson who chose to come to the U of L from their home in Calgary.

So when it was time to get away from the busy Calgary lifestyle and apply the experience he'd gained in private sector positions, the U of L was there once again.

"We were looking to Lethbridge and this was the perfect job," says Spoulos. "It was a good experience for us in Calgary. I had the chance to work in a couple different industries and when I left I was the vice-president of finance, so I was getting the experience I wanted. But our kids were at an age where we wanted something a little slower and a little more relaxed – this opportunity was too good to pass up."

Doug Spoulos
Doug Spoulos is instrumental in bringing people to the table to discuss priorities in the new budget process.

A chartered accountant by trade, Spoulos had worked the last several years acquiring the broad business experience he'd need for his new role at the
U of L.

"In my last position, I had the chance to work beyond the accounting side of things and look at the business aspect as well, how businesses run and how they operate. That's the more interesting part, because you can sit there and just work on the numbers or you can take those numbers and figure out how to apply them and determine what the business should be doing."

His first order of business at the U of L was to play a key role on the President's Task Force on Budget Process, the mandate of which was to review the University's budget process and make recommendations to the executive team supporting both short and long term planning.

Consisting of President Mike Mahon, executive director representatives Carrie Takeyasu and Chris Eagan, dean representatives Chris Hosgood and Rob Wood, Spoulos and the group sought input from throughout the U of L community on the budget process.

"The number one thing that came out of those meetings was a consensus that people wanted to tie budget priorities to the Strategic Plan," says Spoulos. "They wanted to see a rationale as to why money was going where it was going."

Another emergent theme came from the existing budget committee, its members expressing that the three-year sitting term was not long enough to gain a full understanding of the process to make their contributions effective.

"The basic conclusion we came to was that we already have a group of people who have a good understanding of the budget process," says Spoulos. "Those on the committee should be the people who are responsible for the budgets in their units, the deans and executive directors."

In not wanting to exclude the rest of the University community from the process, the task force recommended that business units and faculty members have input through priority presentations, within their units and faculty councils, that speak to their specific areas.

"It's a build-from-the-ground-up approach when it comes to setting priorities," says Spoulos. "Priority presentations are not about dollars, they're about what priorities you've established in your area. We look at them, the themes, and prioritize them in relation to the University's Strategic Plan and decide whether they should be funded. These presentations are open to the entire University community. It gives everybody the opportunity to see what is being funded and why. You might not agree with every decision but at least the process is transparent and you can see the rationale behind the decision."

A third key theme of discovery centred on the timing of the budget process. Having always worked on a September to March cycle, Faculties indicated that to hire the most desirable candidates, they needed to start looking for people in November and December, far before they had any idea of what budget dollars were available to them. The cycle has now been adjusted to work from April to October.

"This first year will be a pretty difficult transition year because by the time this recommendation was made, we'd already put ourselves a month behind in the new system," says Spoulos.

As a result, the priority presentation process has been pushed back from June 25 to September.

"At the end of the day, our goal is to make the entire budget process transparent and accessible, so that everybody understands what goes into the creation of the budget," says Spoulos. "We want to make it equitable, so that not only do people have input into the process, but the right people have input."


· The final report from the President's Task Force on Budget Process can be viewed at

· Spoulos met his wife, Bev, when they both worked at the University previously. She just started a new position at the U of L as an administrative assistant in the Department of Native American Studies

· Spoulos and his wife have three children, two daughters aged 12 and 13, and a son who is entering his second year of psychology at the U of L

· Prior to his first term at the University, Spoulos worked at KPMG as a chartered accountant, auditor and manager

This story first appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Legend. For a look at the entire issue in flipbook format, follow this link.