Campus Life

Town Hall Meeting will update budgetary process

University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade chats about what's happening in the University community

This past spring, the University held a town hall meeting for staff and faculty to address issues surrounding the economic downturn and an expected shortfall in the provincial operating grant.

At that time, much of what we talked about was based on speculation and an expectation that the provincial funding grant increases for the years 2010 and 2011 would come in at zero per cent.

As you read this Billboard, senior administration has just returned from a meeting in Edmonton with Advanced Education Minister, Hon. Doug Horner. He invited the board of governor Chairs and presidents from the province's post-secondary institutions to discuss the state of the provincial budget and what the allocations will be to the post-secondary system.

Now that we have this information, I invite everyone to attend the Friday, Oct. 9, Town Hall Meeting so that we may discuss the University's financial situation further. The feedback from the previous town hall was generally positive and some very good ideas were generated as a result. I expect Friday's town hall will be just as beneficial.

The University just recently unveiled a Voluntary Retirement Program as one measure aimed at alleviating some of the financial stress on our operating budget. It is hard to say what impact this initiative will have but it has already received a number of inquiries. The nature of our organization, as with any educational institution, is that salaries make up the majority of the operating budget and all avenues are being explored to best handle the expected shortfall in provincial funding.

The University celebrated a major event last month with the grand opening of the new Community Sports Stadium. The festivities were spectacular by any measure. I'm still thrilled by the Friday night football games featuring four of our local high school programs. I have no rooting interest in any of these teams and yet I was swept up in the emotion of the evening. The traffic, the people, the spirit of the stadium was truly alive. Our own Pronghorn teams then carried that momentum over into Saturday, making it a very memorable weekend.

Another good news story this month is the realization of our largest enrolment figure to date. At 8,248 students, we are well ahead of last year's Fall Semester numbers, which is a testament to the hard work of many University departments. At one point, projected enrolment saw us at a 17 per cent decline from the previous year, but as is the nature of the U of L, a concentrated interdepartmental effort tackled the challenge and produced wonderful results.

Congratulations to Dr. Reg Bibby, recently honoured by the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) with the CAFA Distinguished Academic Award for 2009. One of our most recognized faculty members due to his groundbreaking and oft-cited research interests, this honour is well deserved.

I am looking forward to celebrating another graduating class at the Fall 2009 Convocation later this month. With Son Soubert and Paul Brandt here to receive honorary degrees, as well as the return of our first Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Cheryl Misak, as the Alumna of the Year, it promises to be a prominent event.