The beginning of a new year is not only a time for reflection, but a chance for us to look forward expectantly to the year ahead. The University of Saskatchewan has much to be proud of in 2004, but we're equally excited about the possibilities that await us in 2005.
One of our most significant achievements in the past year was the approval of the University's Integrated Plan and 2003-07 multi-year operating budget. This success was not only the culmination of years of thinking and talking about Strategic Directions, but a direct result of the need to align the University's budget with the academic priorities of the institution. While we've successfully taken our first steps, it is critical we move into the execution phase with a firm resolve to carry through on the commitments outlined in the plan.
We also addressed some of the challenges surrounding campus infrastructure. We completed the Spinks Addition, the Physical Activity Complex, and the VIDO addition. We've also made tremendous progress on the planned expansion of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the development of the Health Sciences project. Moreover, the opening of a parkade on College Drive has done much to alleviate the issue of parking on this campus.
I am also extremely proud of the fact that we celebrated the official opening of the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, an extraordinary research facility with vast potential. Federal and provincial dignitaries, university presidents, and leading scientists from across Canada attended this special event and paid tribute to the partnerships among universities, government, and industry that led to the development of this $173.5-million, U of S-owned national facility.
I must mention, too, the remarkable progress we've made with the rehabilitation of the College Building. For too long this designated-heritage site has sat vacant and deteriorating. Now, it is well on its way to being returned to its former stature as the centerpiece of our beautiful campus.
While we have accomplished much in 2004, we must continue to foster and build upon the momentum we've gathered. It is crucial we continue the lively debate surrounding the balance between student and government contributions to the University's operating budget. In fact, there is a pressing need to broaden the discussion about public spending in all areas to ensure that the future of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan is bright.
We must also set our sights high in the areas of student and faculty recruitment. Competition for faculty is fierce, and we must recognize that the appointments we make in the coming years will set the academic tone of this institution for generations.
While recruiting faculty is a priority, it is equally important that we encourage students to view the University of Saskatchewan as their first choice for post-secondary education. While most universities are working hard across borders to recruit, Saskatchewan remains a net exporter of university-age students. We simply must develop more resources for student support which, in turn, will allow us to be competitive.
I am confident in our ability to meet these and other challenges awaiting us in 2005. The University of Saskatchewan is a precious and unique resource. We are this province's principle research engine, and it is important that capacity be sustained and advanced in this era that celebrates knowledge. It is important that we do our work well; after all, public education is about building the future.
All the best in 2005!
Peter MacKinnon, President