The open forum

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Concerns from September's Council meeting were to be addressed at the forum /image: Arthur Ward

Concerns from September’s Council meeting were to be addressed at the forum /image: Arthur Ward

Research, liberal arts and transparency were hot topics at the forum

Article: Rikkeal Bohmann – News Editor

U of R President Vianne Timmons held an open forum on Oct. 24. This forum was to be used to address concerns brought up at the Sept. 27 Council Meeting.

Timmons opened the forum by updating the campus on what’s happening and of the successes the U of R has had in recent years. Record enrolment was a significant success Timmons discussed, citing the new faculty of nursing, increase in international students, more self-declared Aboriginal student and students with disabilities being up over the past four years.

Research, another key area to universities was also brought up. Timmons stated that $150,000 as a one time monies would be used towards graduate students this year. Next year, this will depend on government budgeting.

This past year, the U of R has garnered a lot of negative press as well. The overtime scandal in the Faculty of Education was a hot button topic. The Liberal Arts Foundation of the university was also questioned.

Timmons repeatedly asked for the campus to work with her on what needs to be changed on campus throughout the forum, asking for open dialogue. Since the Special Council meeting, she said about 10 people have come to meet with her and discuss issues on campus. The forum had a low student turn out as well. Timmons was unhappy, but remained optimistic about this. “I was disappointed in the turnout, I wish more had showed, but I’ll talk to how many people I can.” About half as many people showed up to this forum as the last Council meeting. Hardly any students attended.

English Professor Susan Johnston, who had initially been key to bringing forth the September Council meeting, was unhappy with the results of the forum.

[pullquote]“They asked me for every expense that we have for the president, vice-president and AVPs, and we took it literally. They wanted all the expenses and supporting documents, so we said this will be expensive to compile.”[/pullquote]

“Well I was very sorry to hear that the President has walked backwards on her commitment that she made publicly to the media to release the operating line-by-line fund. I think it is disturbing to hear that that is only possible going forward, and not looking backward. I’m glad they’re devoting resources to discovering good ways to release that information, but the fact of that of the matter is that we have presented them with a number of examples.” Transparency was brought up as an issue at the forum.

Radio-Canada had asked the U of R to disclose travel expenses of the President, Vice-Presidents, and Associate Vice-Presidents since 2010, earlier this year. The university responded that it would cost CBC $13,760 to acquire all of them.

When asked about this by the Carillon, Timmons responded with, “They asked me for every expense that we have for the President, Vice-President and AVPs, and we took it literally. They wanted all the expenses and supporting documents, so we said this will be expensive to compile. Can you narrow your scope? Can you bring it down so that it’s something that’s more manageable for us? And we sent it back to them and we didn’t hear from them.”

Timmons’ travel expenses have been starting to become available. She pledges all her travel expenses since she became President in 2008 will be made public.

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