Submission to the Globe and Mail

This letter was submitted to (but not printed by) THE GLOBE & MAIL in response to the following article:

“A teachable moment for Canada’s University”
By Jeffrey Simpson
Globe & Mail, August 29, 2009

To the Editor:

Jeffrey Simpson is right that we should not lavish research funding on five universities and starve the others. But he is wrong that staff and faculty salaries occupy 70% of university budgets and are rising
disproportionately.

CAUT’s Almanac of Post-Secondary Education (2008-09) shows Academic salaries as 19% of university expenditures in 2006-07, down from 32% in 1977 (p. 4). At Queen’s, faculty salaries represent about 14%
of the total university budget.

If it’s simplistic, as these figures show, to blame shortfalls on faculty salaries, what are the causes? The case of Queen’s is suggestive. One cause might be massive, unfunded building projects: Queen’s Centre, the
biggest project in Kingston but one of several underway at Queen’s, was only 12% funded when it began, before overruns.

Another cause might be administrative bloat: administrative salaries rise more rapidly than
faculty salaries, and while faculty positions decline (54 will be lost by attrition within three years), administrative positions have multiplied at Queen’s.

Faculty do not favour and cannot be blamed for class sections with 400 students; these are effects of inadequate faculty numbers. To get appropriate teaching ratios we need governments that fund universities
adequately and administrative leadership that prioritizes quality education and research.

Mark Jones
jonesmc@queensu.ca

Roberta Lamb
lambr@queensu.ca

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