October 28th, 2020

U of L will deal with budget constraints, says president


By Kuhl, Nick on October 29, 2019.

Students make their way along a path during a break between classes recently at the University of Lethbridge as officials are reacting to last weeks provincial budget announcement. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Nick Kuhl

Lethbridge Herald

nkuhl@lethbridgeherald.com

Students are the top priority, and will remain so, for officials at the University of Lethbridge.

U of L President Mike Mahon says they will look to align and effectively use resources moving forward, as well as look for new fundraising and bursary opportunities.

This is part of the initial reaction from Mahon in relation to last week’s Government of Alberta budget release and its impacts to post-secondary funding models.

“Any significant budget reduction like this will feel significant ” Mahon told reporters last Friday.

“What that means, though, in terms of the specifics, I think is too early to say. While it will be significant, it is not unsurmountable in terms of our ability to deal with it. And we will deal with it.”

The University of Lethbridge is facing a 3.2 per cent reduction in its Campus Alberta operating grant, which equates to $3.4 million, as well as a one-year suspension of its of Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP), which equates to $4.2 million (this corrects the incorrect information of “cancellation of a $4.2-million ‘lights on’ start-up grant for the new Science Commons” as written in the Oct. 26 page A3 Herald story).

“We know now that we will have some fairly significant reductions that we’ll have to deal with in this fiscal year and then moving forward,” Mahon said.

“So, for the University of Lethbridge it means we’re going to have to work really hard to ensure that we look at the resources we have and the reductions related to those resources in a really critical way to make sure that we maintain our commitment to our students. And also that we do the right thing for all of our faculty and staff in the best way we can,” he continued.

“Lethbridge benefits greatly from the University of Lethbridge, in terms of having people in the community, so thinking about how this budget will affect our community engagement will also be an important piece of the puzzle. Our message to our present and future students is that they remain our No. 1 priority, both in terms of creating access for them to be able to be successful in coming to university, in terms of looking to find resources to support them, and in terms of ensuring that they are successful upon graduation.”

Mahon did not speculate on any potential impact to university sports programs or any possible personnel layoffs.

There may be potential changes in tuition fees at the U of L, but nothing has been decided yet (this corrects the incorrect information of “the anticipated hike will make Lethbridge one of the more expensive choices across Canada” as written in the Oct. 26 page A3 Herald story), despite the province lifting the tuition freeze and allowing post-secondary institutions to increase up to seven per cent per year for three years.

“We’re going to spend the next month thoughtfully looking through what the implications of the reductions are,” Mahon said.

The Herald apologizes for the errors in the previous U of L budget story.

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