By Doug Hallett
The University of Guelph is looking to cut some programs and reduce its workforce to deal with a projected funding gap of $32.4 million over the next three years.
“Given the labor-intensive nature of university operations, there is no doubt that these necessary budget reductions will mean a reduced workforce, more efficient services and fewer programs,” says a new university report.
“Institutions no longer have the luxury of being everything to everyone,” says the report. “It is time to prioritize and invest in the future.”
Using a system called the Program Prioritization Process, imported from the United States, a U of G task force ranked 492 university programs into five groups or “quintiles,” with the top-ranked ones higher up. These PPP rankings are included in the report, which was released last week.
This latest effort to balance the university’s books will be discussed at a senate meeting Wednesday, followed by a highly anticipated afternoon town hall meeting on campus Thursday. It comes on the heels of a multi-year, $46-million budget reduction completed this year.
In a memo attached to the report, U of G provost and vice-pre“We must identify areas of strength in our programs and services and ensure they are well supported in order to best use the limited funds that are available,” Mancuso says.
“Faced with government requirements to do more with less, we must do better what we do well, and leave to others what we cannot sustain at a level of quality we can be proud to associate with the Guelph name.
“The decisions we need to make – and they will at times be difficult decisions – must be evidence-based, because we cannot afford to rely on entrenched practices or assumptions. They must be transparent so that there is no resentment, even if there is some regret,” she says.
“They must balance the need to cut where sustainability is at risk with the opportunity to invest strategically for future success. And they must be made by us, the University of Guelph community, because we can’t trust or defer to others decisions that need to protect and promote our interests. It is up to us to preserve what is best about Guelph, as one of the universities that will emerge from the next decade stronger, better and more empowered to pursue our mission.”
The process that led to the new PPP ranking had university departments fill out 492 standardized evaluation forms between November and March.
Then a 21-member task force appointed by U of G president Alastair Summerlee, made up of faculty, staff and students, spent 13 weeks reviewing and ranking the programs and making recommendations.
The task force was aided by a U.S.-based consulting firm that developed the PPP process.