Have Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors chosen to maintain a façade of unadjusted information in order to pursue an agenda of cutbacks?
It is possible that Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors have known since before the 3rd Integrated Plan got underway that their proposed budget was unrealistic and the projected deficit was never a possibility.
As early as May, 2012 Senior Administrators dramatically reduced the possible shortfall for 2012-13 from $15.5 million to $6 million (2012-13 Operating Budget Summary).
The first year of the integrated plan (2012-13) had a multi-million dollar surplus instead of the assumed $15.5 million deficit (see Financial Statements in the 2012-13 Annual Report).
The 2013-14 Operating Budget Summary presented by Senior Administrators and the BoG included a budget with a projected $3.2 million deficit, not the $16.1 million deficit from the Operations Forecast and not the $23.5 million deficit from the Multi-Year Budget. Furthermore, there is confidence of a surplus for 2013-14 instead of the projected $23.5 million deficit.
The Operations Forecast 2015-16 released in July 2014 includes a “Reclassed Budget” for 2014-15 with a $3 million deficit and a “Projected Budget” for 2015-16 with a $7 million deficit – not the $36 million and $44.5 million deficits for those years respectively, used as part of the rationale for TransformUS.
One might question the need to implement anything from the TransformUS process under the guise of a projected $44.5 million deficit when such a deficit may in fact not exist. If it takes a deficit of $15 million in the first year of the 3rd Integrated Plan (i.e., 2012-13) to have a $44.5 million deficit in the final year of the plan, and if it turns out that projected deficit is significantly less (or non-existent), then it is reasonable to conclude that cutting $20-25 million through TransformUS is unnecessary – not to mention inappropriate.
It’s not about need.
It’s about choice.
Did Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors choose to soften resistance to organizational change by using fear and anxiety created by mythical financial shortfalls?
Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors at the University of Saskatchewan chose to borrow from the corporate world the deliberate management strategy of creating a crisis to motivate change. The continued message from Senior Administrators that there will not be enough money to cover the cost of university operations has perpetrated unnecessary fear on campus.
However, financial statements for the U of S, which reflect the actual financial state of the University, show that there have been surpluses in the first two years in which a multi-million dollar deficit was predicted. The position of Senior Administrators that there will be an operating budget shortfall is simply not supported by actual financial information.
It’s about choice.
Why are Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors choosing to not revisit the 3rd Integrated Plan? Simple adjustments may be all that is needed.
Making plans that reach multiple years into the future is a wise practice. Setting goals and working to achieve them is something we all should be doing. It allows planners to have a sense of direction as well as what will be needed for those goals to be achieved.
In conjunction with such an approach, the wise planner will also look to the plan regularly and make adjustments based on new information. This practice recognizes that there is much outside of the planner’s control that is impossible to predict, which can impact the plan both positively and negatively.
At the U of S, it is particularly relevant to consider the multi-year plans annually because the largest source of funding for the University comes from the Provincial Government on an annual basis. The choice of Senior Administrators to not revisit the 3rd Integrated Plan using real information about funding is unwise and irresponsible, particularly because it is the proposed budget from the Plan that is used to assume there will be a $44.5 million structural deficit in 2015-16.
A choice by Senior Administrators and the Board of Governors to revisit the 3rd Integrated Plan to simply adjust the timelines for achieving its goals could be all that is needed to secure financial sustainability and the future of our university.
It’s about choice.
“…let there be no question that we must continue with implementation of TransformUS and other operating budget adjustment efforts in order to secure financial sustainability and the future of our university.”Former U of S President Ilene Busch-Vishniac, Provincial Budget Announcement, March 19, 2014