This message was sent to faculty and staff by email from the President’s Office.
On April 21, 2023, I wrote to provide an update on our budget process for the 2023-24 fiscal year and the postponement of the full budget submission to the June 21st Board meeting. This time allowed us to assess our financial situation and map a strategic path forward. Today, I want to provide an update on a few important developments.
The University is set to record its third straight annual operating deficit. Through our previous efforts to reduce operating budgets, we have decreased operating expenditures by nearly $20 million annually. To accomplish this, each of you has already gone above and beyond to do more with less. I want to personally thank you for the hard work and sacrifice you have made.
Our deficits have come about as a result of many factors outside our control, including the tuition reduction and freeze, combined with declining provincial operating grants, the pandemic, and record-high inflation, which have resulted in a widening deficit in our operating budget. Addressing the structural deficit is a key opportunity for strategic transformation in that it will allow us to implement new and innovative approaches while modernizing how our University operates and advancing the University’s strategic goals.
To move forward, our objective is to focus on the pillars that make U of G stand apart—academic and research excellence, innovation and technology, dedication to Indigenization, equity, diversity and inclusion, and most importantly, investing in our people—the faculty and staff who make it all happen.
Even with an overall team effort to find efficiencies, the time has come to take a broader strategic approach to financial sustainability, future growth and independent success. The purpose of these actions is not simply to save money; it is fundamentally about building on what works and changing what no longer serves us.
As immediate next steps, we will be:
- Offering a voluntary faculty, veterinarian and librarian retirement incentive program to eligible members. Further information on this program and eligibility was shared yesterday by the Provost to the Members of the University of Guelph Faculty Association.
- Conducting operational reviews across many departments and functions of the University to inform the development of plans that will redirect resources to improve our performance, advance our strategic priorities and better support faculty, staff and students.
- Establishing a Strategic Transformation Office to lead this important initiative and hold accountability for innovation and successful change. For too long, we have asked each of you to contribute to this effort as part of the work you already do. Through the Strategic Transformation Office, we will ensure this priority is given the focus required to be successful. This office will report directly to me and work collaboratively with university leaders and the broader university community.
Additional information on these initiatives will be made available in the coming weeks.
Invitation to Collaborate
Throughout each step of this process, I am committed to transparency, accountability, collaboration and inclusivity. To help ensure we are responsive to faculty and staff, the Vice-Presidents will host a series of budget town halls to get input and provide further information on the budget. I will be attending the first town hall on Monday, May 29, and look forward to seeing many of you there. Additional opportunities to connect will be announced over the coming months.
If you would like to review the budget or submit a question in advance of the town hall meetings, please visit our new Strategic Transformation website at uoguelph.ca/transform. This site will be updated regularly to help support and inform faculty, staff and students.
The U of G community has demonstrated incredible perseverance and dedication over the past few years. Thank you for the work you do to support the University of Guelph. I understand that the information I am conveying in this message will create uncertainty and concern. Charting a way forward will be challenging, but I am committed to being open and transparent with you. I am equally committed to listening carefully to your suggestions and feedback as we chart a new course forward together.
I truly appreciate the passion and commitment you bring to our institution, and I look forward to hearing from you. The genius of the University of Guelph is our ability to tackle and solve big challenges in a collaborative and distinct manner – that is how we will place ourselves back on a sustainable footing and seize the opportunities to come. By acting decisively now and with clear objectives, we will seize Our Time to Improve Life.