University of Ottawa budget worries faculty, students

Dispute $25M deficit and say cost-saving measures are not in the best interests of education

By Randall Denley

Excerpt from: The Ottawa Citizen April 15, 2010

Full article at:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/budget+worries+faculty+students/2908263/story.html

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock has a plan to balance the university’s budget, but he has a long way to go to convince the key constituencies on campus that his approach makes sense. Faculty and student groups strongly oppose proposals to cut spending and are mounting a strong campaign to block the cuts.

The university is facing significant deficits next year and the year after, so senior administration appointed a
committee of professors and financial experts to pull together suggestions on how to make up the shortfall. The majority of the spending-reduction proposals affect students and faculty and include increased class sizes, elimination of vacant teaching positions and reductions in student scholarship support.

Rock has already conducted 18 town hall meetings on campus to explain the problem and the possible
solutions, but skepticism remains high. Neither the faculty nor student groups are convinced that there is a
$25-million deficit because the administration has not detailed what it consists of or how it came about, they say.

“We’d like to know if there really is a deficit and what the real number is,” says Micheline Lessard, president of the association of professors. The association has developed its own analysis of the proposed changes. About 65 per cent of them will come at the expense of reduced students and faculty, says Lessard.

The proposed changes certainly won’t make things better for students, she says, although that is a stated goal of the university administration. “What really concerns the professors here is the quality of our programs,” Lessard says . . .

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