University of Calgary cutting 200 jobs

By DJ Kelly July 14, 2009

I tweeted about this and lots of people were asking for the full text of the mail sent to all UofC staff letting them know they were going to be reducing the workforce by 200 people. I know it is not politics, arts or marketing related but I figured my blog was the best way to make the text available.

Subject: [All-staff-l] Budget Update from the President


Budget Update

July 14, 2009

We are now about three months into the 2009-2010 fiscal year. This period has allowed us to appreciate fully our financial situation at the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year and to evaluate the reasonableness of some of the assumptions we made in constructing the 2009-2010 budget.

We ended 2008-2009 with a $14.3-million deficit. In fact, because of the financial prudence exhibited by the University community, we actually spent $4.5 million less in university operations in 2008-2009 than we anticipated. So, where did the deficit come from? It stemmed primarily from the fact that we continued to fund the various activities supported by the University endowments—things like undergraduate and graduate scholarships and bursaries, salary support for professors, equipment and facilities upkeep—even though, as a result of poor market performance, the return on endowment funds did not provide sufficient monies to underwrite these expenses. This resulted in an additional $19 million charge on our operating fund.

What does this mean for our 2009-2010 budgets, the fiscal year we are currently in? As we have indicated in other budget messages, the first charge on our 2009-2010 budget is the $14.3 million needed to cover the previous year’s deficit. In addition, though, the 2009-2010 budget will also be adversely affected by the increase in the deficit in the Universities Academic Pension Plan (UAPP), itself a victim of poor market performance. This will result in the U of C having an additional $8 million expense to cover the UAPP liability in 2009-2010.

One way that we are mitigating these financial hits, as indicated in previous messages, is that the University is increasing enrolment in a planned and strategic way. Hitting our enrolment targets is key to our financial sustainability and will also help off-set the anticipated zero-percent base increases from the Province of Alberta in the years ahead. Notwithstanding the enrolment increase, the University is in a situation where we must make difficult decisions to ensure that we produce a balanced budget in 2009-2010 and into the future—something mandated by the province and the Board of Governors.

To balance the budget and also to continue to live up to the commitment to fund envelope carryovers, we are pursuing several strategic initiatives. First, we have reduced the 2009-2010 budget allocations by an average of three percent for all units and Faculties. This means continuing budget adjustments by Deans and other budget managers, but this is the reality of the dynamics of budgeting and resource allocation.

Second, as we have indicated in previous messages, a significant portion of the University budget, approximately 60 percent, pays for the salaries and benefits of our employees. Given this reality, there is simply no possibility of ensuring that a balanced budget, once achieved, is sustainable unless we reduce our number of support and academic staff. I anticipate that we will need to reduce our staff complement by up to 200 people by the fall of this year. There is likely to be additional staff and faculty reductions in the future. The number is not known now, but will depend on a whole set of factors such as future government grants, tuition levels, endowment performance and salary and benefit settlements.

No one makes a decision like this lightly, even knowing that the staff complement at the U of C is greater on a per student basis than our comparator G13 universities. The University will reduce its staff complement in as transparent and supportive manner as possible. Senior leadership, as well as your deans, department heads and managers, will share information as it becomes available and work to ensure that you are all informed about the reductions and the plans for your particular units and Faculties.

Third, we are vigorously pursuing the iS2 Project to improve our support service delivery and to reduce operating expenses strategically with as little impact on operations as possible. Projects like iS2allow us to make differential, strategic choices rather than just applying an across the board cost reduction strategy. This project will help the University improve its business processes and internal controls and also reduce expenditures through initiatives such as standardization of service levels and preferred buying arrangements.

I wish that the budget news was better, but it is not. You will continue to hear from us regularly about initiatives—such as iS2, capital projects like the co-gen facility that reduce utility costs and strategic enrolment increases—that reduce University costs and increase revenue, and in some cases allow us to deliver the University’s mission more efficiently than we did before.

Thanks for reading.

Harvey P. Weingarten


I don’t work at UofC but have several friends that do (including my wife) I hope this doesn’t affect any of them. But then again, knowing how Fine Arts has already been gutted in anticipation for the merging of the Arts faculties the majority of my friends probably find this as old news and not likely to affect them any further.

PS – And don’t even go there – my wife did not send me this email text. She was in a meeting. And I doubt she would have even if she could have. She’s prim and proper and works hard for the U. I cajoled someone else. Besides, they sent an email to all staff. If that is not making something public I don’t know what is. Plus I’m not sure if this is even really new news. It may just be the first I’m hearing about it.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm… it makes one wonder…if your friend worked for AHS, would this be grounds for disciplinary action under the new code of conduct? U of C is probably down with this as sharing of information, but AHS?

  • Anonymous

    Hmm… it makes one wonder…if your friend worked for AHS, would this be grounds for disciplinary action under the new code of conduct? U of C is probably down with this as sharing of information, but AHS?

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