Board of Trustees in brief
Highlights from the May 4 meeting of the Board of Trustees.
University balances 2012-13 budget
The Board of Trustees passed a balanced budget for 2012-13.
The $411-million budget includes a drawdown of carry-forward reserves of $10.4-million for predominately non-recurring and contractually limited expenses.
The new, activity-based budget model will be introduced in 2013-14. By providing incentives to increase revenue and reduce costs, the model may help the university achieve a more stable operating budget. The model offers greater transparency and allows units to align spending with academic goals and priorities.
The Queen’s Pension Plan (QPP) deficit continues to be the university’s most significant budgetary challenge. The increased special payments as of the August 31, 2011 valuation are:
• September 2011: $7.2-million for one year (solvency interest)
• September 2012: $9.4-million for three years
• September 2015: $34-million for 10 years
Provost Alan Harrison said there continues to be advocacy for the Ontario government to relent on its required solvency payments, but to date there have been no signals this solution is being considered.
The complete 2012-13 budget report is online.
Access Copyright fee approved
The Board approved a fee of up to $22.50 per full time equivalent student per year should the university enter into a full agreement with Access Copyright on June 30. The administration continues to discuss Queen’s potential commitment to Access Copyright as well as other options with faculty and students.
Revised graduate housing fee rates 2012-13
The Board approved three new fee rates for graduate students living in the leased rooms at the Confederation Place hotel in downtown Kingston. The new fees were required because the rooms differ both in size and amenities, and rates vary based on the time of year. Some of the new rooms at Confederation Place Hotel will be available at the same rate as previously approved for rooms in the John Deutsch University Centre.
The Board also approved the residence society fees and student activity fees for 2012-13.
Principal Daniel Woolf discussed the impact of the recent provincial and federal budgets. Ontario universities must consider the future prospect of less provincial support for operating costs and more accountability on how those funds are spent. Principal Woolf said the federal government continued to support key research and innovation programs although competition for these funds is more challenging every for Queen’s faculty members and their research teams.
Principal Woolf said he believes Queen’s is at its “third juncture” in its history as it faces unprecedented financial challenges of reduced government funding and a pension solvency deficit that will require significantly increased payments beginning in 2015. He said Queen’s must find alternative streams of revenue, attract highly-qualified international students and introduce an internationally-inspired curriculum, focus on research areas in which the university can excel, and work hard on the upcoming campaign as a way of raising money for Queen’s priorities and building the university’s profile locally, nationally and internationally.
Provost Harrison reviewed the operations of the university over the nine months since he came to Queen’s. He noted that the 2011-12 budget is not quite final but it appears the university fared better than projected. Labour settlements and the resulting pension plan changes had a positive impact on the budget and helped reduce the projected budget deficit.
Provost Harrison said implementation of the academic plan is well underway. He highlighted the Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and the Certificate Program in Community Relations for Mining Communities as examples of innovative programs that will attract new graduate students. Queen’s and St. Lawrence College, which signed a memorandum of understanding last year, are discussing future joint academic partnerships.
A working group is reviewing the first-year program at the Bader International Study Centre. The group is looking at the possibility of integrating the offerings and taking better advantage of Herstmonceux Castle’s European location. A preliminary response from the group is expected by the end of June.
Provost Harrison is confident Queen’s will meet its enrollment target for 2012-13 with a modest undergraduate increase made possible by the Waldron Tower extension and new spaces in the John Deutsch University Centre for undergraduate students. Earlier offers of admission this year had a positive impact on early acceptance rates.
Provost Harrison updated Board on the status of the working groups that are examining non-academic discipline and the campus alcohol policy. He is currently considering the recommendations of the non-academic discipline working group that included representatives from the AMS, SGPS, faculties, Student Affairs, Athletics and Recreation and the Provost Office. He will work with student government leaders on developing a process for next steps. Meetings of the alcohol working group continue and it will be some time until decisions or recommendations are brought forward.
New research administration system moves ahead
The Board of Trustees approved the new research administration system budget of up to $3.46-million. The first $250,000 will come from funds set aside in the Queen’s University Administrative Systems Replacement project. The remaining $3.21-million will be funded by an annual $640,000 capital charge to the operating budget over the next five years.
The Tools for Tracking Research Administration at Queen’s (TRAQ) project, which is scheduled for completion by May 2015, will introduce an electronic research administration system to provide customer support to the research community. The goal is to enhance the research community’s productivity by freeing up time spent on research administration tasks, while maintaining high levels of financial accountability and transparency to funding partners.
Rector Nick Francis noted that Erin Smith is this year’s recipient of the Tricolour Award. He hopes to organize a Tricolour Award dinner and reunion of past recipients next year in order to raise the profile of the university’s highest student honour for service in non-sport, extracurricular activities.
Mr. Francis said he was pleased that international tuition rates will not increase more than the domestic rates. And he noted that he has contributed to discussions about developing a new model for Alumni Relations at Queen’s.
Alma Mater Society President Doug Johnson and his executive team of Vice-President (Operations) Tristan Lee and Vice-President (University Affairs) Mira Dineen presented the university with a large cheque representing the undergraduate students’ final contribution to the Queen’s Centre project. President Johnson said that while students were disappointed the project was not completed as originally envisioned, the Queen’s Centre has greatly improved student life on campus.
Mr. Johnson also outlined for the Board some of the AMS’s goals for the upcoming year in areas such as mental health, space on campus, and academic resources for students.
Society for Graduate and Professional Students President Matthew Scribner briefly outlined the material in his written report about negotiations with the university administration over Education Student Society fees. He said there is a need for a university fee protocol.
Mr. Scribner also thanked the university for international tuition fee increases in line with the domestic tuition fee increases.
The Board also approved:
• Revised Naming and Gift Acceptance policies
• Naming dedications
• The five-year review of the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute
• A Pension Plan amendment and restatement
• Tuition, Student Activity and Residence Society fees
The Board received for information the Quarterly Financial Report, the appointments of Professor Emeritus/Emerita and several other reports in the consent agenda.
The agenda is posted on the University Secretariat website.