On Campus News


Living within our means

Living within our means

Brett Fairbairn addresses the U of S community at one of the Town Hall Meetings in Convocation Hall. Photo by Jeff Drake

The University of Saskatchewan’s multi-year budgeting process has identified a projected $44.5 million operating deficit by 2016.

Revenue projections—specifically those based on historical operating grant increases from the Government of Saskatchewan—have been revised to a more modest two per cent annual increase. The province’s spring budget confirmed about a two per cent increase in the operating grant. In 2012-13, the operating grant made up approximately 68 per cent of the university’s overall operating budget. Other revenue sources for the operating budget include tuition and investment income.

Brett Fairbairn (BA’81), provost and vice-president academic, and Greg Fowler (BA’88, MBA’92), acting vice-president of finance and resources, have stressed there will not be across the board cuts to save money. Rather, the university has adopted a principled approach with targeted spending cuts.

With the goal of financial sustainability by 2016 in mind, the university is committed to ensuring expenses do not exceed revenues, making decisions now that reduce the likelihood of cyclical cuts, having the people and programs in place to become one of Canada’s most distinguished universities, and focusing resources on priorities. Offering a high-quality educational experience for students remains a key focus.

Two major initiatives, workforce planning and TransformUS, are underway to ensure the university is well-positioned to achieve these goals.

Workforce planning will ensure the university has a sustainable workforce with the right people with the right knowledge, skills and experience in the right positions aligned with the university’s priorities.

Salaries and benefits represent approximately 75 per cent of the university’s total expenses. Saskatoon’s second largest employer is faced with the reality of lay-offs. Over 150 employees have been laid off to date. A career transitioning firm has been contracted to help equip individuals to find new employment and to support them through the transition.

Program prioritization, entitled TransformUS, involves the simultaneous, systematic prioritization of all programs and functions of the university. Two comprehensive task forces—one for academic programs, the other for support services—have been assembled to determine the criteria, complete an evaluation and create a report that prioritizes all programs. Based on results, decisions will be made to invest resources, make no changes, or eliminate or reduce programs or activities that are determined to have a lower priority.

Tuition fees will not be increased to bridge the funding gap. The same criteria to determine tuition fees that has been used for several years—accessibility and affordability for the majority of potential students, comparisons to other Canadian medical-doctoral U15 universities, and the quality of programs—has been used again this year, resulting in an average 4.5 per cent increase for 2013-14. Tuition increases were determined and made public before the provincial budget announcement.

Revenues from endowed funds, investment income and development of university owned land in the College Quarter district (south of College Drive, east of Cumberland Avenue) are expected to rise, but not enough in the short-term to offset the projected deficit.

Regular and ongoing town hall meetings serve as a forum to keep faculty, students, and staff informed, to answer questions and to receive feedback. The next town hall is schedule for June 13. Alumni are welcome to attend.

For detailed information, regular updates and to voice your opinion, visit usask.ca/finances.

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Global Institute for Food Security gets a $50 million start

Global Institute for Food Security

Roger Beachy, Global Institute for Food Security CEO

A private-public partnership the U of S has struck with the Province of Saskatchewan and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) launched the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) in December 2012.

With initial commitments of up to $35 million from PotashCorp—one of the largest corporate donations for university research in Canada—and $15 million from the province over the next seven years, the institute at the U of S will apply Saskatchewan’s unique resources, innovation and expertise to address the increasing global demand for safe, reliable food.

“Food security is clearly an enormous global challenge and much too big a problem for any single university, government or corporation to tackle on its own. And unlike some existing food security institutes that focus on a piece of across the entire food system; from field to fork,” said Ilene Busch-Vishniac, U of S president. “This will mean developing not just new and urgently needed science and technologies to improve crop production, but also new policies to ensure that food gets to those who need it efficiently and without waste.”

The institute’s founding executive director and CEO, Roger Beachy, started in January. Beachy is an internationally recognized scholar with over 40 years of experience conducting groundbreaking research in food crops, production agriculture and the applications of biotechnology in agriculture, nutrition, and human health.

“To have a tangible impact on food security, the institute requires strong, respected leadership,” said Bill Doyle, president and CEO of PotashCorp. “Roger brings immediate credibility to this initiative and is the best person to lay the groundwork that will help the institute achieve its long-term goals.”

With a bachelor’s degree in biology from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana and a PhD in plant pathology from Michigan State University, Beachy is a fellow of a number of scientific societies, has won several international awards, has had close to 300 articles published, and his research has led to several scientific patents.

In February, the institute’s founding board was announced. The three directors are: Dallas Howe (BA’65, MA’68), chair of the board of PotashCorp; Alanna Koch, deputy minister of Saskatchewan Agriculture; and Peter MacKinnon (LLM’76), former U of S president. Ernie Barber, acting dean for the College of Engineering, was also appointed deputy executive director and chief operating officer.

More details and up-to-date news are available at globalinstituteforfoodsecurity.org.

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New University Secretary

Elizabeth Williamson (BComm’87) has been appointed university secretary effective April 8, replacing Lea Pennock, who retired after eight years in the position.

Trained as a lawyer, Williamson was director of legal services in governance for Cameco Corporation before joining the U of S. She has a long and varied background in governance, legal services and policy development.

Duties of the university secretary include:

  • Governance: supporting the governance of the university, including the Board of Governors, Senate, General Academic Assembly and University Council;
  • Appeals and discipline: administering procedures for hearings related to student academic conduct, student non-academic conduct, and faculty promotion and tenure;
  • Protocol and ceremonies: university protocol and ceremonies such as convocation;
  • Policy: Administration and interpretation of university policies and matters of jurisdiction and governance related to policies; and
  • Administrative oversight of the university’s internal audit function.
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Changes for College of Medicine

Unanimous support from members of University Council on December 20, 2012, paves the way for the College of Medicine to implement changes that will address the critical issues of accreditation, teaching and research.

A New Vision for the College of Medicine was approved in principle and outlines changes to the college intended to address three longstanding issues—accreditation of the medical education program, low research performance and the complexities of providing clinical service.

According to Lou Qualtiere (BSPE’86), acting dean of medicine, the vision document calls for college faculty to include physicians from across the province as community-based faculty who will help deliver medical education.

A new structure for the college was proposed in April 2012. After much consultation, which included a General Academic Assembly called by President Ilene Busch-Vishniac, a revised proposal was presented and approved at the December 20 meeting.

A Dean’s Advisory Committee and several working groups have been established to gather input from faculty and develop an implementation plan. The plan must be presented to Council’s Planning and Priorities Committee by August 15.

In March 2013, a national team visited the college to review its accreditation. A decision on whether enough progress has been made to avoid probation is expected this summer.

More detail and ongoing updates are available online at medicine.usask.ca/renewal.

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Exotic instrument collection

Exotic instrument collection

Professor Emeritus David L. Kaplan donated a collection of exotic, historical and Indigenous instruments to the Department of Music.

During the past year, Kaplan has assembled part of his collection—which includes drums, zithers, crumhorns, shawms and racketts—as a gift to the College of Arts and Science Department of Music to be used for research, exhibition and to be played by student and faculty musicians.

On March 9, a display of the instruments from all over the world was opened in the Education Building.

Kaplan came to the U of S in the 1960s to establish a program in music education. He has served as head of the music department and music director of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. He officially retired in 1990 but continued to teach as a sessional lecturer until 2005. In 2002, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to music.

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The search for College Quarter hotel begins

The search for College Quarter hotel begins

Undergraduate student residences in College Quarter. Photo by David Stobbe

The university is proceeding with plans to find a hotel company interested in building in College Quarter.

A request for proposals went out in January after the City of Saskatoon approved the university’s zoning application, and selection of the winning proposal is expected to be made this spring.

The site identified for the hotel is across College Drive from the main campus, where the seed barn and beach volleyball courts are currently located. Judy Yungwirth (BComm’83, MBA’92), director of corporate administration, said a hotel is one component of a larger development of services in College Quarter that could eventually include retail, residential and commercial space, as well as a new ice rink.

The size of hotel will be determined by whatever is financially feasible for the company that builds it. The value of the long-term lease of land will be determined by market research and current lease arrangements the university has at Preston Crossing, the retail area northeast of the main campus.

Unlike the Preston Crossing development where lease proceeds are directed to student scholarships, lease revenue from the hotel will be directed to further development of College Quarter, where enhancing the student experience is the primary focus.

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Celebrating Aboriginal Achievement

Celebrating Aboriginal Achievement

Onion Lake First Nation Chief Wallace Fox presented a Treaty No. 6 flag to the university March 12. The flag will be placed in Convocation Hall and will appear at official functions along with the flags of the university, Saskatchewan and Canada. Photo by Colleen MacPherson

Identified as a commitment in the University of Saskatchewan’s third integrated plan, Taking Stock, the first of a two-part Aboriginal Symposium, was held on campus March 15.

Taking Stock was a celebration of the concrete achievements related to Aboriginal engagement over the past few years. Events including a poster expo, feast and round dance were conducted to also raise awareness of current Aboriginal initiatives across campus and connect with the community.

The symposium coincided with Aboriginal Achievement Week. Four major events—a pipe ceremony, flag ceremony, feast and round dance—that are deeply rooted in Aboriginal tradition and custom were conducted throughout the week.

The second part of the symposium scheduled for June will be a one-day, invitation-only discussion called Moving Forward. It will involve university officials, international Indigenous scholars and leaders from First Nations and Métis communities. The goal is to rework an existing foundational document on Aboriginal engagement to provide a more focused and refined vision for Aboriginal engagement and success for the university.

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New appointments for Board of Governors

New appointments for Board of Governors

Greg Smith and Susan Milburn

At the March 5 board meeting, Susan Milburn (BComm’78, MBA’80) was appointed chair of the University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors. Milburn, vice-president at Raymond James Ltd. in Saskatoon, has served on the board since 2006.

Greg Smith (BComm’79), a partner in the chartered accounting firm Stark & Marsh in Swift Current, was appointed vice-chair. He was initially appointed to the board in 2007.

Earlier in the year, four new board members were appointed by the Government of Saskatchewan, effective Jan. 17, for three-year terms. The new members are Lee Ahenakew (BComm’97), David Dubé (BA’85), Kathryn J. Ford (BA’71), and Grant Isaac (BA’94, MA’97).

The U of S Board of Governors is responsible for overseeing and directing all matters respecting the management, administration and control of the university’s property, revenues and financial affairs. The board consists of five members appointed by the Government of Saskatchewan, one student member, one faculty member, two members appointed by University Senate, and two ex-officio members—the president and chancellor.

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Centre for Nuclear Innovation announces project funding

Centre for Nuclear Innovation announces project funding

The unveiling of Sylvia Fedoruk’s portrait (L-R) John Root, interim executive director of the Fedoruk Centre; Sharon Sobkow, cousin of Fedoruk; Anne Romaniuk, Fedoruk’s aunt; Rob Norris, legislative secretary to the premier for First Nations engagement. Photo by Liam Richards

The Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation—named in honour of the late Sylvia Fedoruk (BA’49, MA’50, LLD’06), renowned medical physicist, outstanding athlete and the province’s first female lieutenant governor—announced new funding for five research projects in January.

Projects to receive funding include research on using medical isotopes to better assess kidney function, developing new sensors for applications ranging from medical instruments to cargo scanners, and gauging Saskatchewan people’s attitude towards nuclear issues.

The initiatives—four from the U of S and one from the University of Regina—will receive $485,000 from the Fedoruk Centre over the next two years. This funding leveraged an additional $773,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from the research teams and partner organizations, bringing the total value of the research projects to over $1.2 million.

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