Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,
The Board of Governors approved today the 2016-2017 budget of $150.5 million, an increase of $2.7 million or 1.8% over last year. This is the University’s sixth consecutive balanced budget. You may view the budget presentation here as well as the approved budget statements.
Declining demographics of university-age population, declining per-student provincial funding and the Board’s decision to no longer resource programs in Barrie because of provincial government interference, were some of the factors posing additional challenges this year.
The approved budget is consistent with our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, 2012-2017 Strategic Research Plan and 2015-2018 Academic Plan approved by Senate.
Investments in Faculties will increase by $3.2 million or 4% with seven more faculty positions overall (from 375 to 382), support for the AACSB accreditation of the Faculty of Management, for the expansion of the School of Architecture and the introduction this Fall of bilingual engineering programs. The increase in faculty positions includes four new research chairs in Metallogeny (Earth Sciences), Indigenous Health, Franco-Ontarian History, and in Biomining, Bioremediation and Science Communication. The budget for part-time sessionals is reduced by $550,000 while the non-salary budget for the Bharti School of Engineering is doubled. By Faculty, the budget will increase by: 13% in Management; 7% in Science, Engineering and Architecture; 6% in Health; and 3% in Education. It will remain stable in the Arts and in the Goodman School of Mines.
Investments in Academic Support and Non-Academic areas will increase by $0.8 million or 1.4%. This includes $335,000 more in the Office of Research Services to help advance the 2012-17 Strategic Research Plan, $238,000 more to enhance our web presence, digital strategy and communications; $187,000 more in the Faculty of Graduate Studies to support the Graduate Expansion Plan; $100,000 in the Office of the Provost to help advance the 2015-18 Academic Plan and support university-wide student retention strategies as per the advice received from the Leadership Group; and $100,000 for the development of the new strategic plan. As per the advice received by Senate, there will be no budget reduction to library acquisitions. One-time investments of $230,000 in 2015-2016 in Information Technology will be sustained. There will be reductions in Administration in Barrie ($319,000), non-acquisitions Library expenditures ($266,000) and Scholarships ($135,000). Overall, non-faculty positions will decline from 441 to 432.
The University’s accumulated deficit will be reduced from $9.2 million to $8.6 million. For the first time in years, the University will honour Board policy by earmarking 1.5% of operating income for deferred maintenance. Parking fees will increase on average by 20% this Fall.
A deficit of $4.6 million is forecasted in 2017-18, reflecting current student retention rates, current faculty retirement trends, lowered student recruitment forecast and the Board’s decision to no longer resource programs in Barrie.
The engagement with the Province will continue in the coming months with regards to undergraduate enrolment funding protection, pension solvency and the next tuition framework. On May 31st, the eight northern university presidents co-signed a letter to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities urging him to maintain the undergraduate enrolment funding of each university, pending the implementation of eventual changes to the funding formula of universities.
In the meantime, relative to Ontario’s seven similar-sized universities, Laurentian has the highest proportion of its budget allocated to Instruction, and the lowest proportion in Information Technology and in Administration. The incoming Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Dr. Pierre Zundel, and Vice-President, Administration Carol McAulay, will co-lead broad based efforts in the next seven months to ensure sustainability, and report back to the Board’s Finance Committee in January 2017 on potential revenue increases and proposed expenditure reductions. The Manager of Institutional Planning, Michelle Brunette, is being seconded to the Provost’s office as Special Advisor on Retention and Sustainability to assist with these efforts.
I want to thank the dozens of students, faculty, staff and alumni who took part in the 17 budget consultations in April and May, as well as members of the Budget Committee and staff from Financial Services for their hard work in developing this balanced budget.
We have important work ahead to ensure the University can continue its progress in the advancement of its strategic directions in a sustainable way. I thank you in advance for the time, energy and creativity you will contribute toward these efforts.
Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.