News

Illustration: Tabetha Sheppard.

Admin considers suspending construction projects after four years in the red

With the recent financial struggles of the university, estimating a deficit of $7.6 million for 2015-16, the administration suggested some new ways to deal with this at the most recent Board of Governors (BOG) meeting on Feb. 22.

These suggestions included using faculty surpluses to pay down the university’s overall deficit, and suspending construction projects.

This first proposal received some backlash from faculty members on the BOG, saying it could harm their ability to hire new faculty members, a point that President Allan Rock disagreed with. In this same fiscal period, the university also states part of the financial recovery will come from suspended construction and renovation projects, but does not specify which ones.

Andrew Taylor, vice-dean of undergraduate studies for the Faculty of Arts and current member of the BOG, says this will not affect the Faculty of Arts because they are already running a “substantial deficit” themselves, but others will feel the effects.

“I think under the circumstances that limits what arts can say about it. The people who are going to have their surplus taken away from them will be the ones who will see the greatest disadvantages,” said Taylor.

In a statement provided to the Fulcrum by U of O media relations officer Néomie Duval, the university said it’s exploring a variety of solutions to address the deficit and confirms one of the ways it will be doing this is using faculty and services surpluses as of the second half the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Taylor says that due to funding cuts, largely provincial ones, Ontario universities as a whole face serious financial issues, and this is why the BOG is prepared to vote for tuition increases.

“I think most members of the Board of Governors are persuaded that the university does indeed face a very significant financial challenge,” he said. “If there wasn’t a real sense of financial pressure I think (tuition increases are) something there would be a lot more reluctance to do.”

In this same fiscal period, the university also states part of the financial recovery will come from suspended construction and renovation projects, but does not specify which ones.

“The other part will be recovered from the operating fund accumulated surplus of services and faculties, where such a surplus existed. The contributions will be pro-rated and will vary depending on available funds,” the statement said.

In response to if the university felt it was appropriate to use faculty money with such reluctance from faculty members on the BOG, the statement read, “The entire university community must work together. We must all support our university to ensure that we achieve our full potential.”

The university’s statement references Rock’s message to the university community earlier this year, stating, “the university is facing serious financial pressures.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the University of Ottawa’s 2015-16 deficit as $17 million. This number was based on budget projections from the 2012-13 year. The most recent budget has the deficit listed as $1.9 million, but the university has said their revised estimate is $7.6 million. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Fulcrum sincerely regrets the error.