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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

September 4 , 2003
 Newspage

University to review Grenfell budget


Memorial's Board of Regents approved a balanced university budget of $186,859,000 at its July meeting in St. Anthony. Historically, the academic component of the university budget has provided the basis for funding Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. Recently, as Grenfell has undergone significant expansion, and costs have increased, a widening gap in expenditures has resulted in a budget shortfall at the college.

Over the last few months, Grenfell College senior administrators have worked with Trevor Troake of the university's Financial and Administrative Services to come up with a deficit recovery plan that would address the college's financial problems. There is general agreement that the funding model and arrangements for the college – put in place in the early nineties – needed to be reviewed to determine if they are still appropriate to the college's operations today.

According to Grenfell Principal Dr. Adrian Fowler, part of the problem appears to be that Grenfell is quite different from other academic units within Memorial University in that it must support a physical plant and a substantial administrative support staff. He said that this affects comparisons with other academic units in the university.

“When administrative and physical plant costs are separated out from purely academic costs, Grenfell does well in terms of academic efficiency indicators, especially considering that it offers science and fine arts programs, which are inherently expensive to deliver,” said Dr. Fowler.

The review will compare activities at Grenfell to those on the St. John's Campus and also look at other institutions with a similar mission, including some of the smaller universities in Atlantic Canada.

“This approach is intended to ensure that Grenfell is evaluated appropriately," said Dr. Evan Simpson, vice-president (academic), who has jointly established the parameters of the study with Dr. Fowler. He said the intention is to have the study completed by the time the university’s 2003/4 budget is developed.

In the meantime, there are measures Grenfell College is undertaking to relieve some of the pressure on its current budget. These measures have been carefully weighed by Grenfell's senior administration to ensure the college does not impair its ability to provide quality programming.

“While short-term measures will not resolve our budget problem, there are good prospects of achieving significant savings in the current fiscal year,” said Dr. Fowler. He pointed to initiatives such as reducing utility and postal costs, as well as some travel expenditures. Vehicle usage and materials and supplies are also being reviewed.

Longer-term measures provide more reason for optimism, he said. “Revenue generation through conferences has been increasing but there is potential for much greater increases through the marketing of summer institutes, learning vacations, conferences and leadership courses,” said Dr. Fowler, adding that faculty retirements over the next seven years will result in savings of the order of a million dollars.

“Achieving Grenfell's enrolment target of 1,500 students will also help to eliminate the financial problem. We are, in fact, well on our way to achieving this goal, with our enrolment breaking 1,300 for the first time in the College’s history.

“I am optimistic that a full-scale enquiry into our budget in relation to our mandate will result in a strategy that will ensure sustainable development for Grenfell in future years.”

 


 


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