Proposed Scholarship Clawbacks, Atrium Funding, Planning
Proposal to eliminate scholarship money for students on tuition waivers
As a result of past negotiations between BUFA and the University, eligible children of BUFA members receive a tuition waiver when they attend Brock. Some of those children also receive an entrance or continuing scholarship from the University, based on academic merit. At the November 9th Senate meeting, the Undergraduate Student Affairs Committee brought a motion to Senate that would have taken away the monetary value of those scholarships, leaving only a recognition of the award on the student’s transcript. Some Senators expressed strong objections to the motion, including its apparent discrimination against the children of Brock employees eligible for the tuition waiver. Further, the proposed action would likely discourage the most academically talented of our sons and daughters from coming to Brock, given the reduced amount of Brock scholarship funds they would receive, just at a time when the competition among universities for good students is intensifying. It also seems to be an unfair penalty for the student, given that the scholarship is given to the student for the student’s achievements but the tuition waiver is given to the employee as a negotiated benefit. It is also important to note that many employees other than BUFA members receive a tuition waiver, including custodians, parking attendants, and administrative assistants. In this proposal, the monetary value of the scholarships would be taken away from their children, as well as ours. Overall, it was suggested that the money taken from those with tuition waivers be repurposed from merit-based to need-based awards. The motion was deferred to a future meeting, to give Senate an opportunity to get more input from employee groups and give the proposal greater consideration.
Financing the LINC Atrium, our newest construction project
At its Nov. 10th meeting, Senate’s Planning, Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee (PPBAC) discussed the University’s capital budget plans. At that time, the Administration was asked about the funding for the new atrium to be built in front of Schmon Tower. This atrium will be part of the University’s LINC project, which is “a new 30,000 square‑foot research facility that will support entrepreneurs looking to turn their ideas into products and services for the marketplace” (The Brock News, Nov. 3, 2016). The total cost of the LINC is estimated to be approximately $19 million. The federal government will provide $8.47 million for the project; Brock is responsible for the rest. Approximately $3 million is expected to come through donations. The remaining $7.6 million will come from last year’s surplus (!) and funds that had been allocated to addressing the University’s reportedly serious and extensive needs for deferred maintenance. The University also has to find money to pay operating expenses for the new building, once it is completed. We note that there has been no mention of any additional teaching spaces to be created in this building. The time may come when the University will claim that it expects a deficit and thus must cut back on expenditures such as staff, student services, scholarships, or teaching facilities. If so, we should remember the Board’s decision to take on these additional financial obligations for this commercialization space, given other potential academic priorities.
The Year of the Plan(s)
Reports from senior administrators to Senate on Nov. 9th indicated that planning activities will be a major focus for 2016-2017.
The Interim Provost and Vice President Academic, T. Dunk, is working with a small group of Senators to draft a proposed new Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) to be negotiated with the province. The expectation is that the new SMA will have the same three priorities as our current SMA: transdisciplinary research hubs and programs; serving the 21st century learner; and building partnerships that promote prosperity through entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. Senate should receive a draft SMA in January 2017. The province has not yet put out a call for these SMAs, however, so details of the proposal requirements and the process remain uncertain.
In his report, Interim President T. Traves outlined an ambitious goal of creating an integrated strategic plan for the University over the next year. The process will include drafting the following nine plans: academic, research, infrastructure, teaching and learning, student experience, faculty and staff professional development, community engagement, alumni and fundraising, and financial. The financial plan will attempt to coordinate the other plans, within existing means. We hope that the administrative resources to be dedicated to this huge planning exercise will be resources well spent.
The Interim President also reported that he had engaged an external consultant to give Brock advice on the feasibility of starting one or more of our own niche engineering programs.
Linda Rose-Krasnor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
President, Brock University Faculty Association
Phone: 905-688-5550, ext. 3870