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Campus Bulletin

February 27, 2004

Message from the President

To: University of Guelph Community
From: Alastair Summerlee
Subject: Uncertain government funding leads to budget review
Date: Friday, 27 February, 2004

I am writing to you because I believe it is important that all members of the University community have a shared appreciation of the challenges currently before us as we plan for next year’s budget. The University is in a difficult and unexpected situation with its 2004/05 Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) operating budget. Based on the information we have at this time, the provincial government is unlikely to fulfil its commitment to provide funding that is vital to our budget planning process. The resulting funding shortfall is significant and will present a major challenge to us.

The University has developed a multi-year academic plan to accommodate growth while protecting quality and has a carefully planned and controlled budgetary process. The budget year begins May 1. The provincial government is expected to release its budget in mid-May, but as I have said, indications are that it is not likely to deliver on funding commitments that affect our revenue. The biggest areas of concern include the question of financial support for double-cohort enrolment and promised compensation to offset a tuition freeze.

The uncertainty about government revenue makes it difficult to predict the size of the problem, but the estimate at this time is that the University will face a budget shortfall of at least $5.7 million, despite our best efforts in planning.

There must be a plan in place to respond to the anticipated budget shortfall, while continuing to press the government to fulfil its funding commitments. At the same time, in developing its preliminary 2004/2005 MTCU operating budget, the University must address several critical areas, including deferred maintenance, salaries and benefits, and supporting additional enrolment. To meet these strategic expenditures, we must reassess our operating expenses.

I have asked the vice-presidents to work with deans, directors and chairs to address these budget concerns. I am asking that all colleges and directorates review their budgets with a target of a 3.5% reduction. To assist in achieving this target, all future requests to fill faculty and staff vacancies will be carefully reviewed by a committee comprising the provost and vice-president (academic), Maureen Mancuso; the vice-president (finance and administration), Nancy Sullivan; and the vice-president (research); Alan Wildeman.

I, along with my colleagues on the Council of Ontario Universities, will keep pressing the government to honour its funding commitments to allow Ontario universities to accommodate growth while maintaining excellence. I will continue to update the University community on developments in this regard.

I ask for your support and co-operation as we address these challenges and look for further creative ways to balance the budget to ensure that our decisions are smart, strategic and equitable. This will be a difficult time, but as we have shown before, our community shares the common goal of preserving the quality of the Guelph educational experience.

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