Feb 272014


By Jason Warick, The Starphoenix


A non-confidence vote on the sweeping reform process at the University of Saskatchewan is expected today at a meeting of its influential university council.

“We’re expecting a good turnout. This has become an increasingly divisive issue on campus,” said Prof. Len Findlay, who crafted the motion coming to the council floor.

The council will debate a motion asking for an expression of non-confidence in the TransformUS process, one of several initiatives underway to fill what administrators believe is a potential $44.5-million budget shortfall. More than 300 professors, university staff and others have signed a non-confidence petition letter online in advance of the meeting.

Findlay said the few positive aspects of the work so far should be salvaged and then a new process undertaken. He said the reforms have been dictated by top-level administrators, rather than the traditional collegial model.

“It’s part of the creeping corporatization of universities,” he said.

Officials dispute this claim, saying all interested parties have been brought together to make decisions.

U of S provost and vicepresident academic Brett Fairbairn said TransformUS is one of several initiatives involved in the reform process. He said he welcomes all feedback, which has come from many different sources.

He said he couldn’t predict the outcome of Friday’s motion.

“I’m looking forward to the debate,” he said.

He said there is no escaping the fact more needs to be done. In 2012, U of S officials predicted a $44.5-million deficit by 2016 if the status quo continued. Workforce planning and job cuts have achieved roughly $15.5 million in savings so far, but that still leaves a gap of $29 million, he said.

“The university is facing a serious budget issue,” he said. “We have to get it under control.”

University of Saskatchewan Students Union executive members unanimously voted non-confidence in the process earlier this year.

The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Neatby-Timlin Lecture Theatre on campus.


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