Senate Academic Program Review and Prioritization
On September 24, President Lightstone announced that he would accede to the September 18 Senate motions and stop his Special Task Force’s Review of academic programs. Further, he requested that Senate undertake its own academic program review. At its September 25 meeting, the Senate Governance Committee created a subcommittee to develop a proposal for an “Ad Hoc Senate Committee for the Review and/or Prioritization of Academic Programs”. A proposal was discussed and approved at a October 2 special Governance meeting and recommended to Senate for its consideration on October 9 (see Appendix B of the Governance Committee report, which can be found on the October 9 Senate Agenda (https://brocku.ca/webfm_send/28394). In this draft proposal, the Ad Hoc Committee would comprise an elected member from each Faculty and the Library, graduate and undergraduate student representatives, the VP Academic and Vice Provost (also the Chair of the Academic Review Committee), the Chair or designate of the Senate Planning, Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee, the Chair or Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Graduate Studies, and two observers (one selected by the Deans and one selected by BUFA). The proposal includes an initial screening process in which some programs would be identified for the first set of reviews, with the review of all other programs to follow. These “first to be reviewed” programs would be those that appear most likely to be considered “not viable”, on the basis of a set of criteria using primarily quantitative data. There would be a second-stage review of programs that would be based on a more comprehensive range of data and more complex criteria; it would be on the basis of this second review that the Committee would make recommendations about the programs. Both the screening and the second-stage review criteria would be developed by the Ad Hoc Committee after an extensive consultation process. This two-stage review strategy was developed in response to the President’s emphasis on the need for “timely action”, given budgetary pressures. The following components also are being recommended for the review process: (a) regular broad consultations throughout the Committee’s deliberations; (b) open Committee meetings; and (c) University-wide access to the information and criteria that the Committee would use to make its recommendations. The Committee would use the support team and resources identified by the President for his Special Task Force. The issue of which programs in the Library will continue to be reviewed by the President’s Task Force as “administrative programs” has not yet been resolved, as well as the relation between this Ad Hoc Committee and Senate’s standing Academic Review Committee.
Brock’s Budget Situation
Brian Hutchings, VP Finance and Administration, presented two reports to the Senate Planning, Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee (PPBAC) on October 1: (a) Brock’s audited financial statements for the years ending on April 30, 2013 and 2012 (see Appendix A of the PPBAC report at https://brocku.ca/webfm_send/28394 ) and (b) Brock’s Five Year Financial Forecast and Cash Flows (prepared by Bryan Boles, AVP Finance, and Josh Tonnos, Manager of Treasury; see Appendix B of the PPBAC report at https://brocku.ca/webfm_send/28394 ). BUFA’s own Budget Advisory Committee will be examining these documents and will report to our membership. However, one of the issues that initially emerges from these documents is the large amount of Brock’s budget and debt that is associated with current and planned capital expenses, expenses incurred without any significant increases in teaching spaces that would allow us to accept more students and thus raise revenue. Questions such as how much of our increased expenditures are due to increases in the costs of senior administration and the status of funding for specific buildings cannot be answered from the information currently available. Overall, the documents present a very dark picture of Brock’s current and future financial situation. In this context, it should be noted that the Board of Trustees has mandated President Lightstone to eliminate Brock’s operating budget deficit by the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year (see report of the actions of the Board of Trustees on the Senate agenda at https://brocku.ca/webfm_send/28394 and Brock website summary at https://www.brocku.ca/news/23940 ). According the Five Year Financial Forecast report, the deficit for 2014-15 will be $20,190,000 (compared to a $7 million deficit for 2013-2104). These documents are part of PPBAC’s report to Senate and should inform discussion at Wednesday’s Senate meeting.
There are likely huge implications of the President’s mandate to eliminate the deficit in one year, both for Brock as an institution and for us as individuals. We will need to ask questions and provide input about how decisions about spending cuts and revenue increases will be made and implemented. On this issue, we all must become concerned, knowledgeable, and involved.
Linda Rose-Krasnor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
President, Brock University Faculty Association
500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catharines ON Canada L2S 3A1
Phone: 905-688-5550, ext. 3870