Queen’s refocuses amid budget problems

University to shift resources to "brand" programs

Facing ballooning pension costs and shrinking deficits, Queen’s university is planning to cut 15 per cent from their budget over the next three years. The cuts are announced just as Queen’s completed the first phase of a new athletic centre, which will leave the university with an extra $125 million in debt. Though Queen’s Centre is being partially funded through a new student levy, outside donations have fallen short. Phases two and three have been postponed.

To compensate for its budget woes, university principal Daniel Woolf says he plans to scale down the university’s offerings, and shift available resources towards core areas. As reported in the Globe yesterday:

Most Canadian universities, such as Queen’s, are struggling with financial pressures, caused by factors such as rising pension costs and falling endowment income. Several have implemented cost-cutting measures, ranging from dropping courses and banning small classes to laying off staff.

Longer term, Dr. Woolf, a historian and Queen’s grad, believes the school will have to reshape its academic direction to develop what he calls a “balanced academy.” This would ensure that the university shifts more attention to undergraduate education – what he describes as “our brand.”

He is also preaching selectivity: the need for Queen’s to determine what areas are core to the university, and then focus on them intensely. “You can’t do everything at the same level,” he said.

The administration had requested faculty take a two per cent pay cut, with a promise to split the savings between professors own departments and the school’s operating deficit. Queen’s University Faculty Association members voted 89 per cent against the request last Monday. The union is blaming the administration for mismanaging the budget.