Where to make cuts

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Andrew Robinson
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MUN must find almost $4 million in savings

Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador’s St. John’s campus. — File photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The president of Memorial University is adamant the recent provincial budget was good for post-secondary education.

“In a year of constraints, it was very, very positive,” said Gary Kachanoski.

However, he is faced with a challenging task as a result of reduced administrative funding from the Department of Advanc­ed Education and Skills and the Department of Health and Community Services.

In a news release issued Friday, MUN said it needs to find $3 million in annual administrative savings.

The Faculty of Medicine, too, is facing a shortfall in cash, to the tune of $850,000 annually. Those funds would typically come from the Department of Health and Community Services.

“Those are on the administrative side, to be clear,” said Kachanoski. “We will find them in our administrative portfolios of our various vice-presidents.”

Asked if a reduction in staff is avoidable when trying to account for almost $4 million, Kachanoski said it will look to minimize the impact on all units.

“I can’t speak to whether or not there will or will not be (job losses) at this state, but I can say that we will do it in a thoughtful way which will create the minimum impact.”

Given MUN is operating within the relevant budget year, Kachanoski said it is imperative to identify where it can find the necessary savings, ALthough the process for doing so will not be done in a rushed or unthoughtful manner.

“It’s just a week after the budget, and we’re starting that process,” he said, adding decisions will likely be made “within the next month or so.”

Kachanoski said the reduced administrative spending will have no impact on academic programs or the delivery of services to students.

He added that Wednesday’s announcement of a decision to close MUN’s Division of Lifelong Learning was not connected to the school’s need to find administrative cost savings.

“This discussion has been going on for some time now about the business model for that overall set of programs. It was the right thing to do.”

The program had accumulated a deficit of $700,000 since 2001. Ten full-time staff and 50 part-time employees are affected by the closure.

The budget also included $10 million for deferred maintenance work at the university, a figure that was $2 million less than what it was expecting to receive.

A study completed by a consultant for the university in November 2010 found that MUN needs to invest at least $32 million annually until 2026 to reduce its deferred maintenance to a level comparable with other major educational institutions in Canada.

However, Kachanoski said the university will benefit from infrastructure upgrades planned to take place over the next few years.

“We just need to have the infrastructure dollars that allow us to continue to do the deferred maintenance, do the planning, and move on.”

Foremost among those plans is new core science infrastructure. The budget included measures to start the planning process for such a facility.

“They’re going to work with us and begin the planning process, Which is great. That’s exactly what we’ve been asking for.”

Kachanoski said the planning process will take approximately two years.

Following an address made last month to the Rotary Club of St. John’s, he said it will cost approximately $250 million to build a 300,000-square-foot space to accommodate MUN’s engineering and applied science programs.

He maintains there is much to like in the budget, making note of significant funding for the Marine Institute and the engineering faculty, as well as a continuation of the tuition freeze and investment in the construction of new student residences.

“I think this is one of the best budgets for universities in Canada,” he said.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Department of Advanc, Department of Health and Community Services.In, Division of Lifelong Learning Rotary Club Marine Institute

Geographic location: Canada.However, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Sickned in St.John's
    May 05, 2012 - 21:26

    If Mun wants to make cuts to save money they should look at the productivity of its employees. I have several acquaintances that 'work' (and I use the word loosely) at MUN. These individuals also have their home internet and cell phone (IPhones, no less) supplied & paid for by MUN as part of their 'job descriptions’. How do I know this, because these ppl freely post this on their Facebook walls. Maybe MUN needs to block or monitor what is being posted by its employees on social networking sites such as Facebook or twitter during work hours where these individuals spend a majority of work day on Facebook posting about how bored they are because of a lack of things to do. Maybe MUN should conduct employee productivity audit. I think they could eliminate more than a few unnecessary positions. Cut non-productive jobs filled by imbeciles, who freely post their lack of duties, benefits, salaries, as well as running commentary on things that should not be commented on by Memorial Employees during working hours 12-17 times a day, not beneficial leaning programs. As a former alumni I am sickened that monies that could benefit other areas such as Life Long Learning Programs are being directed toward these buffoons!

  • Bill Bartlett
    May 04, 2012 - 11:51

    Here's my take on the situation: 1. The president and senior administration make an astronomical amount of money. The president with salary, vehicle allowance, housing allowance, etc makes nearly $450,000 a year. This is insane and embarrassing to our university. 2. I saw this coming, MUN's Board of Regents and most administrators are puppets for the PC party. Look to the Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook for example, a new V.P. who everyone in town knows is hard core PC - they're administration even blocked a research documents around tire burning from being released prior to last falls election. Charles Pender was declared "secretariat to advance Grenfell Campus" it was done without competition and little fan fare, why? Simply because he is one of the biggest tories in Newfoundland. Whether we like it or not, MUN is not academically free from the government as it should be - and this is a way to slash and cut from the workhorses of the university (our office staff, support people etc) just to protect the high ranking folks with cushy offices and nice pay cheques. The government knows how to keep students quiet.. they just let them float along paying little tuition so they won't pay attention.

  • Blair Brookfield
    May 04, 2012 - 10:04

    Shut down the Arts, Science, Business and Eduction faculties. Most of the graduates don't get jobs anyway. Focus on Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Engineering. They're the only programs worth studying there.

  • concern citizen
    May 04, 2012 - 08:17

    Maybe THUNDERDALE should look in the mirror as to where the cuts need to be made and look at herself and her puppets' spending. I bet you could save a lot of $LOONIES$ there.......wait a minute they are all looneys running that JOINT over there............LOOK IN THE MIRROR KATTY.............THE WORST PREMIER EVER IN HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • j
    May 04, 2012 - 07:54

    Having been a student at MUN and enjoying most of my experiences there, I'd pretty sure that my thoughts can't be passed off as simply "Sour Grapes". I think that if they want to find savings, the first thing they should do is a wage cut for the President and then several other of the administrative positions. I like MUN, I really do--but I think it's run pretty horribly. While we "enjoy" the lowest tuition fees, the administration finds other ways to step on the students' toes and bleed them for whatever they're worth. I was fortunate enough to live at home while studying, but many times had I heard my friends talk about needing to choose between Rent and Groceries because they needed money to park at MUN, etc... Unfortunately, they're instead going to cut programming, and probably going to increase parking rates, because God forbid the patriarchs' offices get a little less cushy...