Faculty question transparency of new budget process

Faculty are criticizing recent University of Calgary budget changes that were supposed to give more power to faculties and deans.

As of Mon., Jan. 15, all deans were expected to have a four-year budget plan finished and ready to present to U of C vice-president academic Dr. Alan Har- rison. The new budget procedures mean Harrison will be the deciding official on each faculty’s budget and will meet with the deans on a case-by-case approach.

But the U of C Faculty Association believes the old process–in which faculties met together–was better for the unification of the university.

“The worries we have relate to the collegiate of the university,seeing it as a whole,” said TUCFA president Anton Colijn. “Suppose some people in faculty ‘x’ decide something that affects people in faculty ‘y.’ There should be consultation.”

U of C vice-president finance and services Mike McAdam dispelled Colijn’s concerns.

“I don’t think the changes are linked to quality admission,” he noted. “Everybody is ready and engaged to improve the quality. The university budget committee and the university planning committee came up with the recommended changes based on the results [of consultations taken last spring].”

Colijn is also concerned with the formula the budget allocation is now based on. He mentioned that faculties such as humanities and fine arts are generally worse off than the more professional faculties.

“Some faculties will be better off than others,” said McAdam, noting some positive consequences for the deans will be seen with the changes as well. “They’ve got greater flexibility to make staffing decisions than before. Decisions [will be] made at a level where they are best made.”

Colijn is also concerned that accountability may be lost in the new budget process.

“It is true that by downloading things onto the deans, the administration can wash their hands of some things,” said Colijn, noting the decentralization of decision making may reduce some of the checks and balances usually observed by the previous budget committees.

McAdam disagreed.

“As a matter of fact, under the new system there is a greater accountability than before,” said McAdam, adding there will be better and more regular reporting of funds.

Despite McAdam’s reassurances, Colijn said only time will indicate whether the new system works.

“We’ll have to see the system in operation for awhile before it becomes clear,” said Colijn.

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