President Loreman’s report to GFC, February 18, 2021Posted on: Feb 18, 2021
Preparing the 2021-22 operating budget for consideration by the Board of Governors was particularly challenging this year. As always we adopted a conservative approach, building into our assumptions anticipated revenue losses and increased expenses in areas including but not limited to employee salaries, necessary hiring, and the costs of new programs. We have seen budget requests relating to expenses increase, while at the same time our revenues have decreased mostly due to:
- A covid-related reduction in revenue from international students.
- Reduction in campus-related revenues including but not limited to facilities rentals, residence fees, parking fees, food service, event attendance, etc.
- A covid-related downturn in new student enrolments compared to recent years (although overall our numbers are up).
- An anticipated but as yet unknown cut to our Campus Alberta Grant from the Government of Alberta.
A deficit is not an option at CUE. Our approach to balancing our operating budget was to try and preserve the student experience as best we can, to remain affordable for students, and to avoid layoffs. I believe that we have been successful in this, and I am grateful to our team in Finance and our Budget Officers for helping us to achieve this. More information on Budget 2021-22 will be available following Board approval.
The planning of our new academic building with its associated community consultations revealed the need for CUE to foster a closer and more positive relationship with our local community. In collaboration with local Community Leagues, and with the assistance of Board Committee Member Jim Gendron, we developed a new Community Engagement and Relationship Policy that was approved in December 2020. Since that time, I have been in communication with community members as we implement the policy. We are in the process of forming a Community Advisory Committee for CUE that would meet with me four times annually, as well as developing a ‘Town and Gown’ good neighbour initiative for the fall that our entire community will be invited to participate in. This will include education at CUE on the impact of smoking and litter on local residents, and a range of activities such as a community clean-up.
What will Fall 2021 look like?
It is too early to speculate about what Fall 2021 will look like, but administration is discussing various scenarios for our return to campus. These involve the possibility of another semester that looks much like our last two, or potentially something different. There are a lot of unknown variables, not the least of which is the speed at which vaccines are rolled out more widely across Canada. While I cannot say when a final decision will be made about fall 2021, I can say unequivocally that our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our campus community, and that we will take the necessary actions required to keep our campus safe.
Doctor of Psychology approval.
I am very proud that our Doctor of Psychology degree has been approved by the CAQC and the Minister of Advanced Education and that we are in the likely position of being able to offer it in the fall. This was a degree that was seven years in the making, and it is a unique achievement for an institution of our size. Congratulations and thanks to all at CUE who had a hand in this accomplishment. This included not only our incredibly strong and ambitious Psychology Department who identified a need and initiated and drove the effort, but also a large number of key people past and present from CUE’s senior administration, our Deans of Arts, students, support staff, our Board, and members of our community from across the institution. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the CAQC in getting us to this place. Deeming that we were not yet ready they could have said no to our initial application and walked away, but they instead chose to work with us to bring this dream to fruition. This is another highpoint in CUEs growth and development.
Undergraduate Research in Science Conference of Alberta 2021:
Another highpoint is the fact that CUE will be hosting the 2021 Undergraduate Research in Science Conference of Alberta on May 3-4, 2021. The theme is, very appropriately, “Undergraduate Research under Extraordinary Circumstances”. Hosting this conference is a very big deal and attracts some very positive attention for us. The program is still under development, but we have secured a very notable keynote speaker in Dr. Alejandro Adem, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Thank you to our Dean of Science, Dr. Patrick Kamau, and all in our terrific Faculty of Science who had a hand in securing this important conference for CUE.
CUE Award Winners:
While we could not have a Faculty and Staff Recognition Dinner this year, we did want to do something special to recognize our award winners. We will feature each of them in a virtual ‘Awards Week’ (coming soon!) with short videos that we filmed in late January where I took each of the award winners by surprise.