University takes provincial budget in stride

University of Lethbridge senior administration, already operating under the premise that no increases to base operating grants would be forthcoming, was not taken by surprise when the Alberta government released its 2011-2012 budget recently. Moreover, having taken measures to deal with forecasted budget shortfalls, the University is moving ahead with its preparation of a balanced 2011-2012 U of L budget.

"The budget they handed down was essentially what we were expecting," says University president Dr. Mike Mahon. "We're going to receive about the same amount of base funding as we received last year. While that still equates to a net loss as our operating costs rise, it is something we dealt with last year and what we have been preparing for this year."

The provincial budget committed $3 billion to Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, slightly less than the $3.2 billion it received in 2010-2011. Campus Alberta grants to the province's 26 post-secondary institutions increased by $61.6 million.

For the U of L, whose single largest revenue stream (66 per cent) is from government grants, the Campus Alberta grant amounts to $99,966,673.

"This is at the same base level as received in 2010-2011," says Mahon. "But this includes some additional support for basic infrastructure costs that we've borne over the past year, about $1.4 million for the operations of Markin Hall, the Community Sports Stadium and the Penny Building."

Mahon says the University will also receive a one-time transition grant of $1.2 million from Advanced Education and Technology that will be used to fund initiatives relating to the U of L's strategic priorities, as well as to cope with further anticipated operating budget reductions in future years.

"The University has adopted a very prudent approach to dealing with budget constraints, and we've seen departments throughout the institution continue to provide the very best service to our students while meeting these challenges," adds Mahon. "As we move forward with the 2011-2012 budget, I trust we will continue to give our students the quality educational experience they've grown to expect."