The U of S feels as if it is in crisis mode. A prediction has been made that there will be a hefty shortfall, over 10%, in the annual base operating grant from the provincial government. What’s to do?
Well, the flock of sheep is gone, dispersed to more appreciative pastures. The Kenderdine facility has locked its doors, and trespassing professors will be prosecuted. Between November and August, close to 250 positions have been eliminated. We are facing TransformUS, “a program prioritization initiative” driven entirely by the availability and allocation of financial resources, and thereby different in purpose and scope than the Systematic Program Review of a decade ago which was founded on academic criteria.
It is vital that during the TransformUS process there be serious dialogue amongst faculty leading up to the decisions Council will be facing later this year. And remember, Council is made up primarily of faculty—our colleagues, your colleagues. Council’s responsibilities are great, and soon will be onerous, visceral, foundational. What is the goal of the University? What do our young colleagues want? What do we think they should want? What is the role of our colleagues who are research chairholders? What is quality? What is excellence? These were buzzwords of yore, were they not?
More importantly all of this crisis-mode activity is premised on a predicted deficit. What if this prediction does not come to pass in the same way that the predicted pension shortfall of a few years ago did not happen. Reactions to that crisis continue to be felt in academic units across campus.
A lot of very smart people make the U of S what it is today. Their teaching and scholarly work compare to the best, anywhere. But, where will this great ship go now? VOX is a forum for UFSA members, and sometimes others. The first issue of VOX this academic year kicks off with an essay by Prof. Satya Sharma, who, prior to this publication, has repeatedly brought the same issues and arguments to the larger community (see: SP articles “University lacks accountability” Dec. 14/12, and “U of S runs on corporate agenda” Mar. 1/13).
While there is more to come, we welcome your thoughts on these and other issues you see as important. Please weigh in!
VOX is a forum for the expression of opinions of members of the USFA on topics of general interest to the membership. Submissions to be considered for publication should be sent to the USFA office to the attention of the VOX Editorial Board or they may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to any member of the Editorial Board.
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