King's Briefs

Task force report: what's new

An emergency Board of Governors meeting was called on Monday, Nov. 17, to discuss the faculty’s report on the school’s financial difficulties.
The report was created partly in response to the Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force report, which was circulated among the faculty, staff and student representatives earlier this year. The faculty report said that the Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force report focused too heavily on the faculty salary freeze, among other things.
The faculty report advocated that in lieu of a voluntary salary freeze – which the report said had the potential to actually end up being involuntary to some or all faculty members – that the university re-examine the role of endowment in the budget. The task force report had indicated that a one-time distribution of the unrestricted portion of the university’s $38 million endowment would be a poor decision for the university.
Currently, the university draws four per cent of the endowment each year for operating expenses. The faculty report recommended increasing this year’s draw from four per cent to five per cent, which would result in an increase of about $300,000 in revenue. This is approximately the same amount that would be saved by a faculty salary freeze.
At the board meeting on Monday, members decided that the endowment would be raised in the short term, to allow for a more representative task force to examine the school’s options for the coming years.
“Instead of making cuts to our faculty, which are an integral part of our college, we’re taking that time,” said Aidan McNally, one of the student Board of Governors representatives. “We’re going to rely a bit more on the endowment, we’re going to take that time, we’re going to get together – all together – with people who know King’s, and love King’s, and decide how King’s is going to continue to exist.”
As of right now, the new taskforce will include two students, two staff members, three faculty members, one alumnus, one Board of Governors representative, president George Cooper, Board of Governors’ chair Dale Godsoe, and Kim Kierans as the chair of the new taskforce. The composition of this task force is under discussion and subject to change.
However, McNally said, the new task force should have a short term report ready by the end of December, and has another deadline in February to discuss options for the 2015-16 academic year. There will be another deadline in 2015 to discuss the following years.
Although the topics for discussion have not been set, the task force will likely look at options beyond those presented by the Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force report, including the model of increased growth and independence. The faculty report outlined a number of different models of operation, including moderate growth, the assumption that enrolment decline is not permanent, merging with Dalhousie, or seeking a federated college structure in cooperation with Dalhousie.
McNally was quick to note that “there has not been any talk of not being independent,” and that there needs to be the “made-at-King’s solution” that the faculty report stressed.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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