Campus Forum - 19 March

President Indira Samarasekera invites all faculty, staff, and students to a campus forum on the afternoon of Mar. 19, where she will present highlights from the Comprehensive Institutional Plan and the 2014-2015 institutional budget. She will review how the Speech from the Throne and provincial budget will affect institutional planning for next year. She will share the progress the university has made -- and the goals remaining -- on the institutional change agenda and action plan. 

The president would also like to hear from community members and has set aside time at the forum for questions and comments. 

All staff, students and faculty are encouraged to attend. The president has requested managers and supervisors give interested staff the time  to attend if possible. 

Campus Forum 
Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014 
3 p.m. – 4 p.m. 
ECHA L1-490
 (Edmonton Clinic Health Academy – basement level) 

For those who cannot attend in person the forum will be livestreamed at Change@UAlberta.   

Budget roundtables – have your say

University staff and students are invited to participate in roundtable discussions with senior leadership. President Indira Samarasekera, Acting Provost Martin Ferguson-Pell and VP Finance and Administration Phyllis Clark will each hold a one-hour roundtable session over the next month and a half in order to discuss budget planning decisions and to listen to community members’ ideas. Roundtables are open to anyone in the university community. However, as space is limited to 24 participants per session, please email if you would like to attend.

Session 1
Acting Provost and Vice President (Academic) Martin Ferguson-Pell
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013
3:15 – 4:15 PM
SAB 3-07

Session 2
Vice-President Finance and Administration
Phyllis Clark
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013
10:00 – 11:00 AM
SAB 3-07

Session 3
President Indira Samarasekera
Monday, Dec. 16, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM
SAB 3-07

University of Alberta community given until September to revise LOE

From the Edmonton Journal, April 12 2013: 

President Samarasekera describes yesterday's meeting with the Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education as "very constructive", indicating that the university community now has the opportunity “to completely reconstruct the letters of expectation by September.”

Campus Forum

President Samarasekera will hold a Campus Forum on April 19, 2013 to update the community on:

  • revised budget planning for 2013-14
  • meetings with government, and
  • the Board of Governors retreat (scheduled for April 16-18)

All employees and students are invited to attend. Please register for this event.

Campus Forum
Friday April 19, 2013
10 - 11 am
1 - 440 CCIS (Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science)

The forum will also be livestreamed


In order to better organize the thoughtful ideas we have been receiving about the change process, we have added a link to IdeaScale, a platform for sharing, voting on and discussing ideas.

IdeaScale gives you more options for participating in the process and having your voice heard. You can submit an original idea, comment on the ideas of others and vote for the ideas you like. The more comments or votes an idea receives, the higher it is ranked.

In order to participate on the IdeaScale site, you will be asked to create an IdeaScale account. You may use your UAlberta email address and your real name. However, participants may also remain anonymous or adopt a pseudonym, should they so choose.

We have gathered many of the relevant thoughts submitted to Colloquy and sorted them into different themes:

  • Institutional strengths
  • Budget
  • MOU/Letter of expectation

IdeaScale is where community members can talk about solutions. Colloquy remains the place for in-depth discussion and debate.

Please take a moment to browse through the ideas on IdeaScale, add your comments, or vote for the ones you like. You can submit new ideas as well.

The third theme, Letter of Expectation, was initially open until Sunday April 7th at midnight. The theme was then temporarily closed so that ideas could be gathered and submitted to the senior administrative team before thier April 11th meeting with the Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education.

Here’s what you are saying

Anonymous -10/31/2013 10:50:08
After looking at the slides from the recent budget update to the GFC, it would appear that benefits comprise a substantial financial burden and consideration going forward. If I understand the benefit schema from a NASA perspective, the medical dental, etc is covered as a 100% employer premium. Having worked in industry and in the American public sector, would it not stand to reason that employees should bear at least some of the cost of premiums? Generally it is 50% 50% in my expereince. It may no longer be prudent to try and compete with the government benefit plans (if this is indeed the case). The reality check is that individuals do not appreciate the cost burden borne by the U of A on their behalf. On the flip-side, our institution has to recognize it can no longer afford to do so.
Anonymous -4/25/2013 16:20:34
The President talked about upper Admin people taking furlough days and pay cuts but why don't we peons on campus know this? Frankly, I'm skeptical.
Anonymous -4/25/2013 16:20:34
It looks like there is still money for some things at the U of A (100 new engineering positions): http://careers.ualberta.ca/Competition/A107411303/
Bill Hackborn -4/25/2013 16:20:34
I think there should be an across-the-board cut in the salary/wage grid for all UA employees in 2014-15. This would reduce the need/severity of vertical cuts. It would also encourage some of us, who are considering retirement in the next 5 years, to retire earlier than we might otherwise have done (because, at least for those like me in the UAPP, retirement income is based on our average income over our last 5 years of employment). What I am suggesting is not easy to accept, especially for me (as I am considering retirement within the next 5 years), but I would rather see us all take a pay cut than see my valued co-workers lose their jobs or see some of the programs we have worked so hard to create get flushed down the tubes. I think we need to accept that Alberta is (at least for now) a boom-bust economy, highly dependent on what we can charge for the commodities we sell (especially oil -- the demand for our oil has taken a nose dive recently). In the 1990s, we accepted pay cuts on the order of 10% in higher education when the price of oil fell, but for much of the time since then we have reaped the benefits of rising demand. Albertans need to voluntarily average out these losses and gains, and we (all of us, including those of us in higher education) need to work at diversifying Alberta's economy so that it is less vulnerable to commodity prices.
Anonymous -4/23/2013
In addition to seeking large alumni donations, why not a grassroots campaign to all alumni. Something like "We hope that your time at the U of A is a source of pride for you and that the training you received has helped you to reach the successes that you have today. The access and quality of that experience for future grads is at risk, with the governments cuts. We would like to ask for a small monthly donation ($10/month) to help us continue to educate our children and our children's children." Most alumni can't do big gifts, but those who cant might be more inclined to do the price of two lattes a month, especially if it was automatically withdrawn and tax deductable. With 50% uptake, of the 250 000 alumni that was quoted on the U of A home page in a recent story, that is 12.5 million dollars. Not the solution, but potentially part of it.
Anonymous -4/24/2013 14:17:00
Given the amount of air travel that U of A employees do, perhaps utilization of the new ETS buss service to the International airport would provide a cost savings benefit.

The bus service runs 7 days a week from 4:10am - 12:30am with free on board Wi-Fi internet access included.

$5 one way
*Two ETS Adult tickets one way (starts February 2013)
$100 monthly pass

While it may not suit everybody's needs, perhaps it could be implemented as a preferred method, rather than accumulating taxi fares or parking and mileage costs on every travel claim.

Anonymous -4/23/2013 8:33:02
After all the meetings that have taken place, the Premier continues, as of today (April 23, 2012) to espouse that an important goal for government is to focus the post-secondary research agenda (comments today in a CBC radio interview). Apparently these meetings between our institution's leadership and the government have been unsuccessful on the issue of academic freedom from government interference.
Anonymous -4/15/2013 12:04:48
I wonder if sending 19 Board members for three days in Banff is really the best use of money given the state of finances at this point in time?? I have no doubt that they are not going to be staying at a hostel - likely a 4 or 5 star property. Could they not meet on campus or somewhere local, saving the costs of transportation and accommodations?

The Edmonton Journal article from April 12, 2013 by Sheila Pratts titled "U of A profs relieved province's mandate letters set aside" states: "Also next week, Samarasekera and the U of A board of governors will go to Banff for a three-day retreat to discuss the future of the institution."

Anonymous -4/15/2013 8:46:50
I suppose there is nothing we can do about the cut now. But I think it might be prudent to consider the cut in light of "fixing" the operating line element on a larger scale,. What I mean about this is that we have been cutting for the last few years, and what has been largely affected are operating budgets - there is little left but salaries in most departments and nothing for day-to-day operations. When I hear of phones being removed, and printers disconnected that strikes me as indicating systems collapse. What happens to staff who need computers? Not for research but for day-to-day things like teaching, communicating with students etc. Soon I suppose we will need to pay for our own use of lights and heat?? When I asked the Provost awhile ago if dept budgets increase with inflation he answer was no. So when considering the vertical cuts please make sure there is enough operating budget so that the remaining units can truly operate!!
Anonymous -4/14/2013 9:22:31
Are our Executives at the University really trying to cost save, really ,a 3 day retreat in Banff to discuss the future of the Institution with Redford, Why ? are they wasting more money ? Why can they not just use the facilities of the University that is under discussion ? and just attend over the 3 days. This will probably amount to a 1st year students tuition.
Robert -4/11/2013 20:40:14
Funny, the Government can still afford a high cost arena that no one will be able to attend because of Job/Professor/Academic Future of our Children/Enrollment downsizing, a complete loss, How much IE do they have in Surplus? Offer a compensation to pay instead of loss. Maybe the Alberta Government should go cut back on trips to the U.S. and elsewhere to save money for the Province. The list goes on and on.
Anonymous -4/10/2013 16:09:40
I see below comments about paper waste. I'm shocked this is even an issue, paper waste. Really? To those who insist/support paper versions of anything that is of voluntary mass consumption and comes from the University, get with the program - make it electronic. We don't need paper staff lists/phone books, course calenders, student news papers, departmental brochures...
Anonymous -4/10/2013 15:23:23
End the BEd program. Continue offering the 1 year teaching after-degree and the graduate programs.
Anonymous -4/10/2013 12:26:19
Augustana Campus is a great campus....a great undergrad campus with great undergrad student experience. However, the UofA is not a solely undergraduate school. One can argue that Augustana and its goals/mission is not in line with how the UofA proper operates. From the ever-important bang-for-our-University-buck perspective, the 60-some Faculty at Augustana likely do not contribute to "the University" as do those Faculty at the main UofA campus. This may especially be the case in terms of research contribution, research funding secured, and student contact "load" (average 15 students/professor).

One can't help but wonder how the Augustana model of "disproportionate high teaching-low number of student loads (and subsequent promotion seemingly based on related performance factors) being sustainable given the UofA's current funding re-prioritization scramble.

Sorry - Augustana is great, but I've not seen any discourse about it --- to me, its the expensive privileged elephant in the room that everyone pretends doesn't exist.


Anonymous -4/10/2013 11:32:48
Stop offering programs of the past and concentrate on the future needs, who really cares how Dinosaurs swam.
Connie Varnhagen -4/5/2013 8:46:21
We may denigrate Campus Alberta but there are efficiencies that can be accomplished by joining forces with other institutions.

Many institutions use PeopleSoft to manage financial, human resources, supplies, courses. Why not have a province-wide PeopleSoft? Each institution could put its own branding on the interface but having a unified system and database will allow easier transfer between institutions.

We should consider the same consolidation of course management systems. Why not develop a single sign-on Moodle or other course management system for all students in Alberta (secondary included)? Maybe even single sign-on to all resources, including Libraries, file sharing, financials (if we join our PeopleSoft systems this would be easy)? Students can then manage their courses at any institution. This may also lead to easier transfer between institutions.

Regardless of budget, these joined systems benefit students and staff and should be seriously considered. Once systems are joined, the province should also realize an incredible savings. 

Matt Kingston -4/2/2013 17:50:38
Hi Guys,

Just curious if anybody has done a cost analysis on sending out emails instead of full-blown phone books detailing the annual general meeting etc. It's got to cost a pretty penny to print one per employee as well as distributing all of that material across campus. Not to mention the environmental cost. Might not hit the $100K mark but its a start.


Matt Kingston
Chem Stores

Anonymous -4/2/2013 17:50:38
If government would like to reduce the amount of funding it provides to post-secondary education, it should recognize that it will need to take a secondary place in the running of its universities. The University of Alberta has been linked very closely with government through appointees over the years.
That must also change.
Kristine Smitka -4/2/2013 17:50:38
To the Executive Team responsible for reviewing the "Letter of Expectation,"

I am writing to express my concern over the “Letter of Expectation” sent to the University of Alberta and to all post-secondary institutions in our province.

I am a graduate student in English and Film Studies, and I relocated to Alberta because I was excited to study at an university that could rightly boast of excellent mentors, unique research opportunities in the digital humanities, a strong commitment to curiosity driven, creative projects, and a desire to foster critical citizenship.

“The Letter of Expectation,” does makes reference to “engaged critical thinkers [and] ethical citizens” (2), but these values are threatened by the caveat that the U of A will operate “in accordance with any additional direction provided by the Minister” (1). What might this entail? This phrase is purposely contentless. How are we to think critically about the future of our institution when we are being asked to sign off on yet-to-be-determined initiatives.

The generic nature of these letters, sent to all post-secondary institutions in our province, treats the university as if it were a trade school, with the single purpose of producing “skilled and productive” (1) employees. While I agree that it is important to train engineers and electricians, I also believe we need exploratory research. Instead of a commitment to freethinking, creative classrooms, this letter dictates that we are to “demonstrate a 10 per cent increase in the development of seamless learner pathways” (2). What does that even mean? How can we possibly measure something as poorly defined as a “seamless learner pathway”? What I hear in this jargon is the legislation of a friction free environment in which the government can deliver its economic objectives. Mind you, good democratic debate is not friction free.

Obviously the cuts to education are devastating, yet what concerns me even more is the way in which the provincial government is using this state of financial crisis to rapidly push through problematic educational policy and the bureaucratic branding of higher education. I hope in its next incarnation it will acknowledge the university’s right to think independently from government. The democratic future of our province depends on it.


Kristine Smitka

Anonymous -4/2/2013 17:50:38
Campus Alberta promises to be every bit as impersonal and 'performance indicator' driven as Alberta Health Services. Will this government never understand that they can only make an organization so big before it becomes unwieldy.
Anonymous -4/2/2013 15:34:03
Under the section "Programs", the terms "critical thinkers", "ethical citizens" and "entrepreneurial spirit" need to be defined.

Under the section "Learners", the terms "high quality" and "affordable" need to be defined.

In general, this letter is does not clearly delineate the expectations of the Alberta government. More detail in all sections (clearer definitions and general ellaboration) should be included.

Anonymous -4/2/2013 14:17:30
I have been learning in my PhD research that cities hold the best promise of providing the solutions to the great problems facing mankind. This is so because productive output scales with city size in a super-linear relationship. Our key research intensive institutions are points within a complex network around which creativity, innovation and wealth creation coalesce. He data shows that larger cities have the advantage. If we are truly to be leaders, innovators, research giants, every effort should be made to leverage the creative network and reputation that is the University of Alberta in the province, the country and the world. Now is not the time to hamstring potential. There will be winners and losers in the world completion for the best and the brightest. There is no reason that we cannot achieve above what our city’s population size might suggest, but the key will be in support of the networks we have forged over these several decades and not to undo them.
Anonymous -4/2/2013 12:31:23
I feel very frustrated by the direction our university leadership set to this debate to. Provincial government has clearly made wrong decisions and we, as university, are asked to change. I think we should have been better negotiator and that would have shown a level of leadership that would have resonated throughout the whole province. Isn't that what post-secondary education is all about.

I agree that sacrifices need to be made, I just think that we made the wrong ones. I feel really sad, frustrated and angry about how things turned to be. I came to UofA when it's world ranking was 50 now it's 150ish and I did not see serious questioning of what lead the university to where it is now.

Anonymous -3/31/2013 13:56:45
"Quaecumque vera non amplius iustus veritate mea"
Anonymous -3/29/2013 11:07:38
Once again, I am a bit lost. I am responding to Martin’s March 28 request for consideration of our three greatest institutional strengths. How we define strength is going to determine our identification of our three greatest strengths. In defining our strengths, I take the perspective of our vision, “to inspire the human spirit through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery, and citizenship in a creative community.” I also have a positive bias toward undergraduate students as they represent our greatest numerical strength and potential for developing future leaders to continue our vision and mission. From this perspective, our greatest strengths are: Student engagement. We have some outstanding programs and opportunities, including co-op and work experience, capstone opportunities, community service learning opportunities, and research-based courses and programs. Some of these opportunities are part of the curriculum (e.g. capstone projects in ALES), some are complementary to the curriculum (e.g. undergraduate research and community service learning) and some are outside of the curriculum (e.g. student groups and clubs). Integration of teaching and research. Supporting student engagement are professors bringing research into their courses to introduce students to research, teach research methods, develop an inquiry-based learning environment, and support mentored research. As well, in many programs, graduate students and post doctoral fellows are part of the collaboration, allowing these junior colleagues the opportunity to develop important interpersonal communication and mentoring skills. Community, national, and international engagement. Although maybe not as widely realized, we have outstanding local, national, and international engagement opportunities. Through University of Alberta International, students from around the world have the opportunity to collaborate with local students in developing leadership skills that are essential for our global society and economy. As well, our students have important opportunities to expand their knowledge and understanding beyond Alberta. These strengths can help us lead Campus Alberta; many of these experiences and opportunities distinguish our university from other post secondary institutions in Alberta. But they are not cost-cutting strengths. Capstone projects, inquiry-based learning, community service learning, and undergraduate research cost money in terms of staffing and support.
Anonymous -3/28/2013 16:50:25
Here is a question: why do we have FSOs? From what I can see they do exactly the same work as non-academic support staff, so why not just make them non-academic support staff positions? Save some money and simplify things.

I expect arguments against this. Such as:

"FSOs are high level managers of large groups." Not true. I know of FSOs that don't have anyone reporting to them.

"You can't have managers in the same union as the rest of the support staff in case of a labour disruption." That implies that one FSO can do the job of 5 or 10 or more support staff. That is just not realistic (and a little insulting to support staff). If an FSO could shoulder that workload, why have the support staff to begin with?

"FSOs need the security of an academic position so they can make politically difficult decisions with long term benefits in mind." From what I have seen those types of decisions are made above the FSO level anyways (Chairs and Associate Chairs).

Anonymous -3/28/2013 11:14:25
As a U of A grad and the father(-in-law) of three students there now, I have grave concerns about our provincial government's handling of the advanced education file to date. Beyond the funding cuts, the government’s ‘letter of expectation’ could threaten the fundamental and historic independence of universities, particularly publicly funded ones. This threat comes indirectly (and insidiously) in the name of "efficiencies," "market responsiveness," "branding" and other neoliberal imperatives that see the marketplace as governing every aspect of our lives. This view is unburdened by any appreciation, or evidently even understanding, of the role of post-secondary public education in a free and democratic society. Nor is my confidence bolstered by reports that the solutions to these concerns will come from cloistering university governors with government officials in Banff. (Given the unlikelihood of all of these good people bunking there in tents, wouldn’t the funds that the public will no doubt pay for their travel and accommodation be better spent on actual students in classrooms?) Perhaps this conversation could be a more open, democratic process. A media report quoted the U of A’s board chair as accepting that the government will not revisit its cuts, and declaring that the university’s goals and directions are allied with those of the provincial government. Surely students and the people who serve them deserve better, not only at the U of A, but in all Albertan post-secondary schools. I would caution us all not to succumb to the powerful neoliberal tactic of presenting a market-oriented path as natural and inevitable, while dismissing other perspectives out of hand. High-quality, public advanced education deserves more consideration than the laws of supply, demand and branding can offer. May long-term vision, fairness and courage guide the efforts of everyone who dares to stand up for public advanced education in Alberta. These days, it needs all the help it can get.
Anonymous -3/27/2013 9:32:50
Please do not give in to the Government of Alberta's Campus of Alberta idea. I do not want a degree from the seemingly fictitious "online" Campus of Alberta. I am in my final semester of earning a degree from the prestigious University of Alberta. I worked hard to gain acceptance and have had a lifetime experience during my time here which I feel is related through my being able to proudly say, "I have a degree from the University of Alberta." Instead of having to explain to every possible employer that the Campus of Alberta is not a scam, it's like the University of Phoenix.You know that place always advertising to convicts to get their degree in prison.

Please do not give in to the Government of Alberta's short sighted budget cuts. This University is a good institution with excellent staff and proud students. Do not let the government take away this standing by grouping the U of A with every college-university hybrid in the province.

Anonymous -3/27/2013 0:26:38
Please insist that the wording of the Letter of Expectation be rephrased to take into account more than just industry needs. To only talk about economy-driven research and teaching is to destroy this University. This is more fundamentally damaging than the cuts. The 2009 mandate letter spoke of to "foster, conduct and disseminate research and creative activity, both pure and applied, within and across all the major program areas" "it's fundamental mandate is to offer broad range of outstanding learning and research programs" and "a balanced academy". Please insist these sentences and others be added. There is a great comment on Colloquy, latest topic, Anonymous March 25, 2013 at 11:03 PM, who suggests that adding comments will be less threatening and more likely to be accepted.

I especially think that the line about programs "Are in demand by employers and students" needs to be changed. Employers cannot dictate what we teach, or we might as well just throw in the towel and merge with NAIT.

Anonymous -3/26/2013 19:33:22
I have been a student at the University of Alberta for several years. One of the most frustrating experiences for me is observing some of the university staff who lazy and incompetent, yet they have high-paying jobs. There are department staff who are paid to drink coffee all day. There are department staff who do not even show up for work. These jobs need to be cut. The university would be better off without these people.
Nicola Ramsey -3/26/2013 15:37:14
I am appalled not only by the cutback to post secondary education announced by the the 2013 budget but also by what I perceive as a very real threat to the autonomy of our post secondary institutions. The government seems to feel that the role of post-secondary institutions is strictly economic development and the advancement of industry, rather than the education of citizens.
I sent following letter to the U of A Board of Governors this morning: 
March 26, 2013
To the Board of Governors, University of Alberta:

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

These inspiring words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians were chosen as the University of Alberta’s motto by Dr. William Hardy Alexander, one of university’s first four professors. Carved in stone above the entrance to Pembina Hall, the words remind us of the vision held by the founders of the U of A, a vision that has remained constant until today. Throughout two world wars, the challenges of the Great Depression, the fears of the Cold War, and the boom and bust of the current oil based economy; this vision has stood the test of time for thousands of students and their professors. It has reaped rewards, both tangible and intangible, for individuals and communities around the world.
Today, thanks to the Progressive Conservative government, we see this vision of our university come under threat. The letter of expectation resulting from by the 2013 provincial budget tells us that no longer should our beloved university encourage students to think about what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and virtuous. The new vision is to create a “skilled and productive workforce” and focus on the “full potential of learning for our economy.” Instead of being an institution of higher learning serving the best interests of students and society, it is to be a commercialized entity that serves the needs of industry.
That is a travesty. As a U of A alumnus, daughter of a U of A graduate, and mother of three U of A students, I urge the Board of Governors to continue to honour the heritage of generations of Albertans who have been inspired by this vision and have helped build our great province and to respect those generations yet to come who deserve an education that goes beyond job training. I ask you to remember that the University of Alberta is there for “the uplifting of the whole people,” as Henry Marshall Tory said in 1908, not just about providing opportunities for financial gain for a handful of people. Please continue to do your part to ensure that the wisdom of the university’s founders is not discarded in favour of the ideology of a political party that does not seem to understand the purpose of true education
Thank you for your recent open letter regarding the recent cuts to post-secondary funding in Alberta. I fear the cuts are just the beginning of a dangerous new trend regarding education in our province as it moves to centralize services under the banner of “Campus Alberta.” I hope the Board of Governors will remain steadfast in following the wisdom of our forefathers by retaining autonomy over our great institution.
Anonymous -3/26/2013 15:37:14
What is "focus on sustainability"?

The way it is talked about in this document, the sole emphasis is on economic sustainability. Sustainability involves three areas of focus - social, environmental and economic; universities should address all three. These areas of focus must be reflected in the document. In a province that gets a bad rap for sustainability, I'd like to see the government pursue/endorse campus sustainability initiatives as a key driver across the whole province.

The letter of expectation for the University of British Columbia says "comply with the government's requirements to be carbon neutral under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, including: accurately defining, measuring, reporting on and verifying the greenhouse gas emissions from the Institution's operations; implementing aggressive measures to reduce those emissions.

We should retain our membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, continue to report our sustainability performance through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, and continue to advance sustainability initiatives on campus. Campuses must serve as a model for sustainability if the government is to expect/achieve sustainability in the province as a whole.

Randy Goebel - 3/24/2013 20:55:54
Dear Change managers,

Hmmm… the draft letter of expectation doesn't say much in anticipation of how an Institute such as recommended by the Premier's Council on Economic Sustainability (PCES) would fit with UofA expectations, nor anything specific about how to engage with any organizations to focus some research effort on Alberta priorities.

It seems to me that making those connections clearer will help guide adjustments as a significant player within the re-emphasized Campus Alberta context? For example, if ALL of the Campus Alberta participants find roles specific to their individual specialties in applied research, that would help define some aspects of an institute, at least according to the somewhat vague expectations of government, and the significantly more precise recommendations from PCES.


Randy Goebel
Computing Science

Anonymous - 3/24/2013 20:55:54
All one has to do is look to see how the UK, AU ad US did their cuts a few years ago and note which strategies were effective. Examples:
- Reduce Provost and President admin
- Eliminating university directed ‘research funding’ for Administrators
- Shutting down extension and putting related successful programs into faculties
- Turn Dean of Students and FGSR into ‘centres’ or ‘schools’
- Shut down ‘Go Abroad’ and similar initiatives in UAI (research has shown, consistently, these programs do not achieve their goals)
- Increase graduate class sizes to a minimum of 15 (most max at 40)
- Eliminate admin leaves and sabbaticals (UK has a payroll option whereby faculty ‘save’ for their sabbatical – when they have enough they are allowed to leave but only for 6 months)
- For programs with low student enrollment, ‘moratorium’ strategies can be put in place
These are only a few examples of significant savings (rather than the ‘let’s hope more faculty retire’ – these retirement salaries, while helpful, are a spit in the ocean at this point and increases the workload by those of us in the trenches). The approach taken this year, as already noted by others, serves only to pit Deans against Deans and will most definitely increase resentment by the campus-wide community. 
Connie Varnhagen - 3/21/2013 8:42:55
I am not sure where to post this. The change@ualberta page seems to be a repeat of Colloquy and then links back to Colloquy for comments anyway. Perhaps the redundancy could be eliminated just by having thread on change on the Colloquy page and eliminating change@ualberta altogether?
I am quite worried about the approach we are using to make changes. Responding to cuts by pitting Dean against Dean doesn’t make pedagogical sense and increases competition when we need to work together. The Comprehensive Institutional Plan, based on the Academic Plan, seems to be a more appropriate place to start because it provides the goals for the University of Alberta. We need to know what is important to ualberta and then plan from there. This is the way we engage in research; we have a research question or concern and then design a method to address that question or concern. Applying the scientific method to solving our budget problems while advancing our great university is nature for us. Competing for the little pieces of the budget available to us is not at all productive and not how we have been trained to address research questions.

We also need data. Sheila Pratt and Jana Pruden, in the Edmonton Journal reported that our per-student funding is $23,000. Where is that money going? What is it being used for? I fully recognize that there are Faculty differences but surely, we can determine a general breakdown of the $23,000? Then, how does our breakdown compare to a similar university that is not in such grave financial trouble? Where can we realize savings and how? Knowledge does not advance without data. We need the data and we need to apply the scientific method to evaluate this data and address our concerns with the budget.

Our great university is based on our research excellence. We need to apply the methods that make us great to keep us great. Competition and emotion and rumours will not help us reach our goals and address the budget crisis.


Anonymous - 3/20/2013 7:13:32
Please, see if we really require so many consultants on campus!.
Look at newly hired managers & redundant postions!
Top wage earners surely can set the example and take a slice in their pay!
Thank- You.
Anonymous - 3/19/2013 18:15:58
Why hasn’t every manager at the University of Alberta been required to take some form of results based management training? I feel like not all managers have a handle on how their budget work or manage to stay onto of their monthly expenditures. I also believe that their performance and any form of raise should be graded against how well their department’s budget is managed and outcomes are clearly achieved. I don’t think the cuts to individuals departments are necessary but these measure could go a long way to make a huge savings.

I noted some people have gone on a speeding spree because they have been fear any surplus in their budget will be taken back. I think recent purchases for things like IPADs and IPhones (all company phone) should be stopped for all U Alberta employees retroactively as of 1 March 2013. I think it’s crazy that people can still buy these items through the microstore and that people get to travel even in the face of a travel ban.

I also believe we also all phone bills need to itemize and individuals don’t have to submit and PAY FOR PERSONAL USAGE. Having worked in other cash strapped organizations, where our paycheques were tied to us submitting a time sheet and itemized usage of our phone bills (both landline line and cellphones).
William Lau - 3/13/2013 16:35:59
Revenue generation - for some reason it was triggered thoughts of market modifiers and increased fees among my peers. That sounds too traditional for me. Also, why would the University do something so cruel?!

For me it meant something different - it meant using our most valuable resource - our students. Not by taking money from us, but including us in the processes to generate funds. We are experienced in raising funds, whether it is for our student groups' operations, our graduating class or to fight poverty in third world countries. Why can't we raise funds for our own University?

On the other hand, how can learning be incorporated into systems that generate revenue? I've always seen the U of A as an institution that trained us to get jobs - to work for someone else. With a push for revenue generation, why aren't students trained to run businesses instead?! Engage us with the outside community and make use of our skills and knowledge.

Students from various faculties refine different skills. How can these skills be translated into a service or good that has a market value?!

Let's think outside the box!

David Kahane - 3/13/2013 16:35:59
There is much talk of consultation and constructive discussion in the context of the Renaissance Committee and now the new cuts. But the actual modes of electronic input are emails for consideration, or comments published as a hodgepodge on change@ualberta or in comment threads of Colloquy. Can't we do better than this?

Please, please, please use some of the excellent, cheap online crowdsourcing tools that are specifically designed to elicit ideas from a community AND TO LET OTHER MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY COMMENT ON AND RANK THESE. See, for example, http://www.mindmixer.com/ or http://ideascale.com/

This would be a step forward and (if done with some intelligence) could make an ugly and disturbingly fast-paced process somewhat more transparent and democratic.

This isn't the whole solution -- there are social technologies we could be using for face to face discussion that beat the pants off town hall meetings, for example. But it'd be a beginning.

UAlberta also has considerable scholarly and practical expertise on faculty in innovative democratic processes, public consultation, etc. -- in the Centre for Public Involvement, the Alberta Climate Dialogue CURA, Arts, and REES, to start. Those determining the processes used to engage the UAlberta community on issues of reallocations and cuts might consider making use of this expertise.
Anonymous - 3/13/2013 16:56:00
The size of the cut required by the University is so huge - $67M - that action must happen on many fronts simultaneously. Strong leadership is required at every level particularly at the very top and brave choices must be made. The AASUA MUST let go of their entitlement attitude and recognize that their world has changed utterly. I suggest:

- AASUA salary cuts of 2 or 3% effective July 1, 2013 (NOT NASA CUTS)

- AASUA salary freezes for 2 years and moving FEC to once every 2 or 3 years and vertical cuts of programs or departments.

Because the vast majority of the University's expenses are salaries (and the vast majority of those are AASUA's), vertical cuts will address the short term problem but with negotiated increases of 2, 3 or 4% per year, we will be back in this situation in just a few years because our expenses will continue to outstrip our revenues. The AASUA gravy train has to stop, let go of a few cars and stay put for a while. We have to learn to live within our means - to do anything less at this moment in time is irresponsible.
Anonymous - 3/13/2013 16:56:00
After listening to the Budget forum on livestream today, I just had come ideas which I am sure the professionals have all taken into consideration but I still would like to put these forward as some alternative ways to cut costs without laying off staff members whether academic or support.

As I enjoy and appreciate all that is part of the package working at the UofA ie., salary, benefits etc.--losing one’s job is harsher than what is noted below.

- Freeze Hiring – possibly retraining current employees may be a better and less costly alternative to fill some important jobs

- Reduce Hours – to avoid layoffs, cut hours and institute a four-day workweek and possibly requiring workers to take unpaid holidays

- Delay Raises or cut salaries – harsh but still better to have a job than no job at all

- Eliminate Bonuses – this falls under the Christmas bonus that is part of the 2013-2015 contract agreement (rework the contract)

- Redeploy workers to busier business segments – Cross-training and again redeploying workers to serve as a team within the University of Alberta (providing employee loyalty and expertise)

- Offer Early-Retirement Packages – like a voluntary layoff but I am sure with many long-term employees at the UofA that are of or close to retirement age, giving them an incentive to leave may be cost effective for future years

- Cut temporary and contract staff – can we not work with filling jobs within the pool of employees we already employ—if everyone provided one calendar year of what they do throughout the year—you may discover that not all employees are busy throughout the year (could they not assist another similar dept./job area) I am sure you would find important positions could be filled within the current employee base (“borrow employees”)

- Trim spending on training, travel and marketing – rather than hiring an expensive training consultant, form employee discussion groups so that workers could meet and discuss the latest in developments in the industry or continue to create in-house training options. Do we really need to fly an employee cross-country for a few hours of face time with that client / prospective student / manager etc. or can they meet by phone, internet chat or video conferencing?

- Regularly seek estimates from suppliers and competitors – make sure we are getting the most for our dollar and maybe the supplier can actively help to find ways for the UofA to save more money

- Involve employees to regularly adjust operations to improve efficiency – keeping employees informed of current issues within the UofA

- Watch capital expenditures
Anonymous - 3/13/2013 12:52:19
Can you please clarify what numbers like 7.2% mean in dollars?

How much does it cost the university to run, physically, for a day (not counting salaries). How much are salaries for a day?

The government has shown the value they place in post-secondary education. For this to change, people must see an impact from the government's decision. I'm wondering how many days of total university shutdown, AASUA, NASA, and all physical facilities, would be necessary to help us in this scenario.

Not what the government expected? I don't see a problem. This treatment is not what we expected from our provincial government. (Well, maybe it is, but that's a different post.)

I'd be happy to take a day, or even a few, off without pay if we could get absolutely EVERYONE to do it at once, and shut the entire university down. Now is not the time for AASUA and NASA to quibble; now is the time to send a united message of support for our institution. This sort of action would send a significant message to the government and to the public, while saving money and [presumably] protecting jobs. You say we need to make vertical cuts. I say our horizontal cuts can be much more effective and disruptive.

Imagine if next week the entire university was just... powered off for a day. That is an impact.

Thanks for your openness in this process, and your attention to these suggestions.
Anonymous - 3/13/2013 13:05:04
While I am watching the Livestream Forum regarding the 2013 budget-one idea that came to my mind is as follows. I had heard from others within the UofA that possibly the Alberta Government may want to lessen or combine post secondary institutions within the Province of Alberta ie., UofA, UofC, Concordia, GMU, MRU, UofLeth etc.

I am wondering has anyone ever considered with our high level of technology available across the Province of Alberta enrolling students taking the same course at the undergraduate level ie., English101 / Chem 101, Biology 107 etc. and offering students participating / learning that course via SATELLITE--no classroom, only if a LAB is part of the course that would be available through each specific city / institution???

There would also be no limit / no restriction to how many students could enroll in the course at the same time--it would be offered at a specific time and all students would participate / learn the course at the same time.

How many students are actually taking the same or similar courses at the same time during any given academic year--the answer I would assume is many courses and with this type of program how many high paid professor's jobs would be eliminated with this type of plan and how much money would be saved??

I would assume many jobs could be eliminated based on restructuring and millions of dollars would be saved--as I am not trying to axe jobs, this proposal to me makes sense as part of the support staff group!

Yes, restructuring / reorganzing would be great but I think in the end we would save so many dollars overall across the province within the post secondary institution. As well the granting of credit would be the same per institution for such undergraduate courses as the level of the course would be the same and less struggle within each Registrar's Office on course evaluation.

Possibly I may be advised that the cost factor in putting such a program together would be astronomical but I see that it could be an idea for the future?

Thanks for your time.
Anonymous - 3/13/2013 13:08:19
It will be very important to offer fuller information on results based budgeting so that it is well understood by all faculties. There may be misunderstanding that the "results" will have to be very concrete types of things (widgets) that are produced on annual cycles.

The real results of the work of the institution will be tied to how well we are delivering on our mission - the metrics will be developed in a way that accurately reflect the work of all faculties including Arts. It would be naive to expect the taxpayers of Alberta to invest in something that does not deliver on its promise. It's up to us to define our promise, how we will deliver on it, and then to demonstrate that we have done so.
Anonymous - 3/12/2013 19:54:06
Middle management growth at the U has outstripped student growth by probably 50X. Save the programs and the students, get rid of excesses in administration. I was a student in the late sixties, and the a NASA member for many years. The top heavy admin grew out of control in the past couple of decades.
Anonymous - 3/12/2013 12:57:28
If staff are in the position to retire within the next year or so why not bring forward early retirement packages.
Anonymous- 3/11/2013 20:43:46
One option to ease the budget restraints and avoid layoffs/program cancellations is to have the Benefits become selectable or to do like other businesses and make it 50% paid by Employer and 50% paid by Employees or optional all together.
Anonymous - 3/7/2013 17:08:58
Rather than raise tuition, why not scale back administration first:
U of A salaries:
-President: $627,000.
-Provost: $618,000.
-VP Finance: $654,000.
-VP Facilities: $668,000.
Anonymous - 3/7/2013 22:07:25
I have worked on campus for 39 years. My pension was full at 35 years. I would gladly help the university save money by taking my pension and reducing my hours. Unfortunately to recieve my pension I must quit and be re-hired in these times of fiscal restraint. If I was lucky enough to be re-hired (same department same duties) HR would still change my job description and I would become be a sitting duck for the next budget cut.
If the university offered some job security I'm sure lots of older workers would love to draw on their pensions and supplement their income by working part time.
Anonymous - 3/7/2013 17:25:37
I am relatively new to the U of A and Canada. My last 20 months at the U of A have been the first time in my life working under a collective agreement. This may be a naive comment, but I hear a lot of comments about the negotiated increases in the collective agreement being a major source of the structural deficit. This wouldn't be an immediate solution to U of A's problems, and again I may be too naive to assume this is possible, but is it not possible to create an "excluded" category in the future? I know when I got a job offer almost 2 years ago from the U of A, I would have applied to and accepted that position even if it was not under the collective agreement. Would increasing the percentage of people in excluded contracts help alleviate the problem of such "negotiated" salary increases in the long run?

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