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REF NO.: 206

SUBJECT: Budget recognizes Memorial University's strategic importance

DATE: March 31

The provincial budget will enable Memorial University to continue to operate in a steady and progressive manner in the opinion of Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial's president.

"This budget, like the recent Speech from the Throne, recognizes that Memorial is of strategic importance for the province and that the university is critical to our future social and economic development," said Dr. Meisen. "We welcome the ongoing support of the provincial government."

Under the budget Memorial will be expected to decrease expenditures in 2004-05 by $2 million. "We will have to achieve additional efficiencies throughout our operations in order to obtain those savings," said Dr. Meisen. "However, we understand that, given the position of the government's finances, Memorial must do its share. We will now review the budget in detail and develop our plan of action."

According to Dr. Meisen, the budget enables Memorial to continue to provide a high quality university education at an affordable price. "We will be able to build on our past academic successes and continue to grow research activities and community initiatives. There is an extra $1 million for teaching equipment and another $3 million for deferred maintenance."

One of the highlights of the budget, and also mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, is the planned training program for new Royal Newfoundland Constabulary recruits. "We are pleased to partner with government and the RNC to develop this program," he said. "The program is still in the planning stage and we will be releasing details once the program is approved by the university's Senate and Board of Regents," he added.

Dr. Meisen also welcomed the announcement to conduct a "White Paper" study of postsecondary education in the province. "We share the government's desire to address affordability and accessibility of postsecondary education, particularly university education, and we look forward to providing input into the study."

Dr. Meisen indicated that there were a number of other initiatives outlined in the budget where he could see Memorial having an interest or playing a role. These included new aquaculture initiatives, specialized tourism development, the new Rural Secretariat, the Public Service Program Renewal, the provincial energy plan and new cultural initiatives.

Dr. Meisen said that the university is looking forward to working with the government in many ways on solutions to the province's fiscal situation. "Some of the brightest minds in the province are here at Memorial," the president said. "Bringing this intellectual power to bear on the financial problem will yield new and creative solutions."

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