University of Regina President, Vianne Timmons, has said that Barbara Pollock was “absolutely not asked to resign,” by university administration.
Pollock, who served as the U of R’s vice-president of external relations for over a decade, surprisingly resigned last week to pursue other professional avenues. President Timmons has said that Pollock’s position will not be filled. In the interim, Pollock’s responsibilities will be redistributed among the staff and the remaining vice-presidents – who will report directly to Timmons.
The news comes after months of student groups and U of R faculty members raising concerns about “bloated” administrative costs in the face of a looming budget crunch. Admin salaries cost the U of R approximately $44 million in 2011 – a statistic that has often overshadowed the provincial government’s decision to slash millions from post-secondary budgets.
“I am waiting to see what the provincial budget is like,” Timmons said. “I have asked faculty to look into every single position very carefully that becomes vacant, and I am doing the same. I’m going to take this as an opportunity to look into the entire external relations area and see if we are being as efficient as we can within it.”
Timmons noted that she didn’t necessarily think there was “fat to be trimmed” in terms of administrative and faculty positions, but that the U of R simply has to take the opportunities to do what they can.
“It looks good that the position isn’t filled, it looks good that the administration didn’t ask her to resign, but in the grand scheme of things this has no impact on the budget problems of this university.” – Nathan Sgrazzutti
Student-run organizations, such as the University of Regina Students’ Union and CFS Saskatchewan, have hailed the decision as a victory for students across the province. Despite university statements to the contrary, many students across campus believe this was a calculated move to appease the masses.
“It is a huge win for us,” said Nathan Sgrazzutti, URSU president. “I think that the vice-presidents knew that someone was going to have to leave. The easiest way to do that, without stepping on toes of course, was to look to the person who already has another path in life to travel down. Personally, I believe that Barb was the one who said, ‘Maybe I should be the one that goes.’ But, I think that everyone knew that someone was going to have to leave.”
University administration began to receive tremendous pressure from student groups after CBC Saskatchewan made their salaries public on Dec. 10 of last year.
“Strategically, this move is smart,” Sgrazzutti said. “It looks good that the position isn’t filled, it looks good that the administration didn’t ask her to resign, but in the grand scheme of things this has no impact on the budget problems of this university. The real issue here is how much money we are spending on these raises, year-after-year.
“The only reason Barb stepped down is as a PR move because they’re backed into a corner.”
President Timmons has denied accusations that Pollock was pressured in any way to resign, or that her resignation was related to the IPAC-CO2 controversy that made headlines several weeks ago.
“This was not a public relations move by any means,” Timmons said. “This is something that we will be doing all the time. When a position becomes vacant we will examine the position and see if we can distribute things differently.”
“It is unfortunate when someone like Barb moves on that people characterize it in a way that doesn’t honour the contributions that they have made to this institution.”
Photo by Regina Leader-Post