Board of Trustees in brief
The May 6 meeting of the Board of Trustees began with a moment of silence marking the deaths of students Andrew Lloyd and Kyle Kinsella.
Board approves 2011-12 budget, calls for end of deficits
The Board of Trustees passed the 2011-12 operating budget of just over $400-million, which reflects a deficit of $3-million. The Board also required the university administration to present by March 2012 a plan for eliminating future budget deficits.
Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis assured the Board in her report that the senior administration is committed to returning to balanced budgets, adding that 2011-12 is anticipated to be the final deficit budget.
To return to a balanced budget in 2012-13, further work must be done to reduce expenditures and increase revenues by $6-million. The principal, vice-principals and deans have been involved in brainstorming sessions on further cost reduction and revenue generation initiatives. Business cases for several ideas will be developed over the summer months.
The most significant current budgetary challenge for the university is the pension plan deficit.
Queen’s intends to negotiate with the employee groups to change the plan so that it becomes sustainable for the future and positions the university to apply for temporary solvency relief under the new provincial regulations. But even with solvency relief, V-P Davis reported that Queen’s payments to the pension plan will need to increase by $8-million in 2011-12, rising to $17-million by 2013-14, and doubling to $34-million when the solvency payments start.
The complete 2011-12 budget report can be read online.
In his report, Principal Daniel Woolf noted that a balanced budget is paramount so that everyone’s attention can be focused on the core academic mission of the university. He added that budget decisions must be made carefully to preserve the quality and special characteristics of Queen’s.
Principal Woolf said he was encouraged that post-secondary education was a significant part of the federal government’s budget that was tabled before the election. However, Principal Woolf warned that universities are still vulnerable to funding restraint decisions by both the federal and provincial governments, given the economic situation.
Principal Woolf noted that he is now spending about 25 per cent of his time on advancement-related activities, reflecting the increased emphasis on his role in the upcoming fundraising campaign.
Provost Bob Silverman said the enrolment planning task force has been reviewing the provincial government’s announcement this spring that it will fund an additional 41,000 university space over the next five years. The task force has submitted a report to Principal Woolf about the context and potential implications for a Queen’s growth strategy.
Provost Silverman informed board that the Queen’s Quality Assurance Processes were recently ratified by Ontario’s Quality Council of the Council of Ontario Universities. The QU-QAPS will ensure consistency and cohesion among all university programs.
The university, Alma Mater Society and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students have signed the operation and management agreement for the Student Life Centre (the John Deutsch University Centre, the Grey House, MacGillivray-Brown Hall, and the non-athletic portion of the Queen’s Centre). Provost Silverman said talks are proceeding well toward reaching an agreement by December 31, concerning the resumption of the AMS’ capital contribution to the Queen’s Centre.
Provost Silverman reflected on the one-year anniversary of the provost model at Queen’s. He said the model works here and has resulted in the establishment of a high-functioning office that better supports university operations.
New brand idea adopted
The Board approved the brand idea A Spirit of Initiative. The brand idea will become the platform to build and execute all future communication, marketing materials and messaging to position Queen’s uniquely and consistently in the marketplace. The Queen’s marketing team will now conduct workshops with campus groups to explore opportunities and develop plans on how to apply the brand idea and communicate to their various audiences.
Renovations to Mackintosh-Corry cafeteria move ahead
The Board approved the $1.3-million redevelopment of the Mackintosh-Corry Hall food services. The funds will come from Sodexho and the residence reserves.
The work will improve customer flow, allow for the promotion of healthy food options and local and sustainable products, and reduce the environmental impact of the cafeteria’s operations.
University Council discusses planning issues
David Dodge was reelected chancellor for a three-year term at the University Council’s 136th annual meeting on May 7.
The theme of this year’s meeting was “What Keeps the Principal Awake a Night? Medium and Long-Term Planning Issues for Queen’s.” Group workshops were held on the financial situation, the teaching and learning environment, and Queen’s and the world. The agenda and background documents can be found online.
Principal Woolf presented the Distinguished Service Awards at the University Council dinner that evening.