President announces a Program Review at Brock

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President announces a Program Review at Brock

Published on July 02 2013

Brock President Jack Lightstone has struck a Presidential Task Force to conduct a Program Review of all administrative and academic programs, units and services at the University. He said the exercise is intended to put Brock on the road to long-term sustainability by ensuring that its programs and services align with its stated mission and strategic priorities while at the same time addressing Brock’s financial condition.

In a letter to the Brock community, Lightstone said there is a sense of urgency for the review, as Brock’s projected operating budget for 2013-14 has a deficit of more than $7 million. He said the review will help ensure that the University’s key areas are prioritized, and resources are strategically allocated.

“Many will ask, why this? Why now?” writes Lightstone. “Over the past decade Brock has experienced exponential growth in enrolment, program expansion and services. We need to take the time to reassess the institution from end to end, to identify where we need to further invest in and expand, where we need to stay the course and where we need to cease our activities or engage in major redesign.

“Like most Canadian universities, Brock faces difficult challenges in the months and years ahead, given the cumulative impact of the competitive climate in the PSE sector, the economic downturn, shifting government policy, funding restraint and reduction, and last but not least, the University’s current fiscal condition.

“The only way to mitigate the impact of these forces, while realizing our mission and priorities, is to address them head-on, because no plans or strategies will avail if an institution is not also on a secure financial footing or on a path to such security.”

The process begins immediately, with the Task Force establishing criteria to be used in the review. The criteria will reflect priorities stated in the University’s Strategic Mandate Agreement submission and its Integrated Strategic Plan.

The Task Force is led by Murray Knuttila (Provost and VP, Academic) and Brian Hutchings (VP, Finance and Administration).  Also on the Task Force are, in alphabetical order,

  • Tom Arkell (Associate VP, University Services);
  • Barb Davis (Registrar);
  • Jory Korobanik (President, GSA);
  • James Mandigo (Professor of Kinesiology and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences);
  • Jane McLeod (Associate Professor of History);
  • Cooper Millard (President, BUSU);
  • Bozidar Mitrovic (Professor of Physics);
  • Susan Sydor (Chair of Senate and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education); and
  • Mary-Louise Vanderlee (Associate Professor of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in the Faculty of Education).

When criteria have been approved, a Task Force working group will conduct consultations with Faculties, departments, programs, administrative units and services across the University.

Lightstone has asked political science Professor David Siegel, who specializes in public policy and administration, to lead the working group. It will also include, in alphabetical order,

  • Grant Armstrong (Director, Organizational Development);
  • Bryan Boles (Associate VP, Finance);
  • Kevin Cavanagh (Director, Communications);
  • Christine Clark Lafleur (Chief Administrative Director);
  • Audrey Fehlow (Director, Application Development);
  • Greg Finn (Vice Provost and Associate VP, Academic);
  • Darren Harper (Associate VP, Human Resources);
  • Carrie Kelly (Manager, Office of Research Services); and
  • Juan Xu (Director, Institutional Analysis and Planning).

In October the working group will present collated results to the Task Force, whose members will review the findings and recommend initiatives for action. Their recommendations will go to the president and senior administration, who will present them to Senate and the Board of Trustees early in 2014.

Brock is the latest of several Canadian universities to initiate program reviews in the face of financial pressures. Similar programs are underway at Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier, Regina and Vancouver Island University. 

“Brock, like many publicly funded institutions, is facing increased cost pressures and declining resources,” said Knuttila. “Our commitment in the Integrated Strategic Plan to stewardship and accountability requires that we take some actions to address the situation.”

Lightstone said the review is a departure from past measures of balancing the budget through across-the-board cutbacks on all programs.

“That approach has taken us as far as we can go with it,” said Lightstone, “but if we continue to use this as our primary cost-cutting tool, we will reach the point where we have starved all of our programs, and none will be supported at the level they need in order to maintain their excellence.

“We must find solutions that protect and even grow Brock’s strengths and put the University on a sound and sustainable footing.”

A Program Review website has been set up to provide updates throughout the process. In the coming days, the website will be expanded to accept comments or inquiries, and to list frequently asked questions.