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University of Alberta cuts ten faculty spots

Alex Migdal
The Gateway (University of Alberta)

EDMONTON (CUP) — The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts has found nearly $500,000 in savings by closing three vacant faculty positions, but must still find a savings of $1 million elsewhere, dean of arts Lesley Cormack announced at a public forum on Jan. 18.

This will result in the elimination of fewer support staff positions as determined by the Administrative Process Review Project (AdPReP), which was originally aiming for 15 positions as the result of a two per cent budget cut.

The faculty has also found another $1 million in savings by eliminating seven tenured faculty positions from professors who have accepted retirement packages, which will take effect July 1. Those savings will go towards the next faculty-wide two per cent budget cut that will eliminate roughly $1.5 million from the arts budget on April 1.

Savings from next year’s cuts will not be found by eliminating more non-academic and support staff, Cormack reassured.

“My hope is that next year’s cut, we can take with a combination of better management of our endowments, being able to use them a little more creatively, fundraising, and the closing of those (faculty) positions,” she said.

In addition, the faculty will be offering a voluntary severance plan for both non-academic and academic staff, as well as a declaration of interest for those interested in reducing their full-time position to part-time.

Cormack also raised the issue of whether the budget cuts are diminishing the quality of education for students in the arts faculty.

“Of course, anytime you take resources and people out of the system, of course it has consequences for those things,” Cormack said. “I think it would be foolish to say it does not.”

Cormack’s stance differed from that of U of A president Indira Samarasekera, who was quoted in the Edmonton Journal the day prior as saying the budget cuts were “modest” and would not have an impact on students.

“I don’t buy the argument that the two-per-cent cut is going to change their experience,” Samarasekera told the Journal’s editorial board.

“We have not laid off profs; the number has increased over the last five or six years and now it’s constant and may go down slightly.”

Recommendations and implementation of the final administrative structure as determined by the AdPReP process are expected to continue until March 31.

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