Staff suggestions

This is a forum where the Brock community can share constructive thoughts or ideas regarding the University’s efforts to address its budget deficit. 

Diverse views are welcomed, however comments may not be posted if they are of a personal nature, irrelevant, or are deemed to be inappropriate, offensive, hateful or derogatory. 

Writers must identify themselves in their submissions, but can request their names not be published with their post. This is offered to encourage participation in the uninhibited exchange of constructive ideas. 

(5 Dec. 2014)  I understand that there is a decline in high school students and therefore a decline in Grade 12 students entering university or college. Something Brock could work on is promoting and supporting mature students — both those who want a new degree, or those who have never been to university. Perhaps we could run an orientation for mature students to prepare them for university and providing regular workshops or support groups, i.e. help with childcare, bursaries, etc.

Ghislaine Clouthier
Scheduling Coordinator, Registrar’s Office

 

(20 May 2014) To contain salary costs, faculty should be on graduated pay scales similar to administrative staff. Each rank — assistant, associate and full professor — should have a salary cap. An assistant professor should not earn more than an associate professor, who should not earn more than a full professor. Further, salaries should be equalized across Faculties in accordance with a principle of equity: the same pay for the same work, irrespective of one’s home Faculty. This system is the norm in universities in many countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. If it were adopted, faculty currently above the salary cap for their rank would no longer receive PTR increases, though they would continue to receive inflationary increases. Those professors at lower ranks who wished to receive higher salaries would also have greater incentives to apply for promotion.

Apart from containing the expansion in high-level administrative posts, administrative costs can be trimmed by creating a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (as in many other universities), amalgamating the faculties of Humanities with Social Sciences. A number of centres within Faculties should be incorporated within departments, e.g. within Humanities the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Centre for Intercultural Studies (and others). Centres require directors (with a course release and additional PDR payments) and separate administrative support. Is this expense justified by programs and student numbers within these centres? Would the programs run as well if housed within departments?

If the answer to the first question is “no” and to the second “yes”, the centres should be eliminated.

Name withheld by request

 

(9 May 2014) A two-per-cent pay reduction to all seems like a rational “all for one“ approach. If it is to be considered, I would expect a progressive tax structure similar to how income tax is collected.

Canada’s federal tax rates for 2014 are calculated thus:
•15% on the first $43,953 of taxable income
•22% on the next $43,954 (taxable income between $43,953 and $87,907
•26% on the next $48,363 (taxable income between $87,907 and $136,270)
• and so on.

Brock could adopt a similar model. This would stay true to the “all for one” approach while more evenly spreading the burden.

Name withheld by request 

 

(6 May 2014) Echoing the comments of others, I too would be open to taking Rae-like days — or, if allowable under CRA rules, make a substantial donation to the University each year for the next few years.

Name withheld by request

 

(5 May 2014) I am an OSSTF staff member and have been here long enough to remember when we took “Rae Days”.

When the “Rae Days” ended, the University continued to offer days off without pay. They are called voluntary reduction days. Many OSSTF members apply for these days each year. The program is available to everyone, and if we want to help out with the budgets then everyone should take voluntary reduction days.

Name withheld by request

 

(5 May 2014) Offer more job-shared positions, i.e. work options in which two or possibly more employees share a single job.

To high earners, offer attractive early retirement packages with strong incentives, e.g. pension benefits that equal the amount an employee would receive from their defined benefit pension plan if they had worked until the normal retirement age.

Name withheld by request

 

(29 April 2014) Senior administrative positions at Brock have grown by 40 per cent since 2010. Many of these positions are unnecessary and are filled by some of the most highly paid people at the university. Cutting the positions created since 2010 would go a long way towards addressing the university’s fiscal situation.

Name withheld by request

 

(23 April 2014) Here is what we have been discussing ever since the first town hall meeting on Nov. 12 of last year: a five-per-cent cut over two years, in exchange for additional vacation days.

As the saying goes, “short-term pain equals long-term gain”.  Since something’s got to be done, let’s make it short and sweet. Two years will go by very quickly, and we believe that five years may be too long of a commitment for many people.

Just thought you’d appreciate to know that many people understand the tough position you’re in, and that we are willing to tighten our belts together to make it work!

Joint submission from a staff member and faculty member
Names withheld by request

 

 

(14 April 2014) In the town hall meeting you ad requested ideas to help generate revenue or bring in additional income to the University. Having just completed a giving campaign as part of the finance committee of my Church, I thought I would suggest one of the strategies that helped us.

We found that breaking down the bigger picture into smaller numbers helped. If we were to use Brock employees as a potential donor base, a breakdown would look something like this:
5500 employees x $20/week X 52 weeks/year =  $5,720,000.

What was also helpful was to illustrate how a $1,040 donation would benefit the donor at tax time.

I believe the University community and alumni (as well as the greater Niagara community) wants to do what they can, and many do not realize that something a simple as $5, $10 or $20 a week could immensely impact the future of Brock.

The $2 million budget I was working with is nowhere near the budget and challenges that Brock is facing, but I wonder if the idea of a similar type of campaign push would work to help in some manner.

Brendan Barrett, Academic Adviser

 

(10 April 2014) I was looking at our profit and loss statements and notice we pay quite a bit in interest payments. I also noticed we still owe $10,127,000 on Earp and $8,049,000 on Lowenberger. These two properties represent 40.9 per cent of our long-term debt (per section 6 of the audited statements). They also have a higher interest rates (7.2%) than the other long-term debt properties.

I’m proposing a wage reduction of two per cent over five years, similar to the donation of a day’s pay which contributed to the founding fund of the University.

Personnel costs = $199,049,000
2% reduction = $3,980,980
5-year accumulation = $19,904,900

These funds could pay the balance owing on the Earp and Lowenberger properties, which would also reduce our interest costs. I realize it would be next to impossible to get a commitment of this kind, but it’s an idea. Even 1 per cent would result in $9,952,450, enough to pay off Lowenberger.

OR the University could put a hold on cost-of-living increases and put those funds towards debt reduction. In regards to unionized staff, you could offer an increase in vacation entitlement in lieu of the scale increases.

Hopefully this helps. It would be a great way for the idea of “investment in the University” to come full circle, especially in light of our 50th anniversary.

Name withheld by request

 

(9 April 2014) I am of the camp that would be willing to do whatever I could to help the University in this time of financial awareness. I have only been at the school for five years. It was not until this past week that I became aware of the program that was in place, back when the University was first being created, of asking people in the community to donate a day’s pay each year toward the building fund. It is this program that I write about today.

I have previously donated through payroll deduction to the United Way, a totally voluntary program. Have you considered reinstating the donating one day of pay per year for, say, the next five years through payroll deduction, again through a voluntary program? I have asked people around campus who I know, and all have said that if it helps the University get back on its feet that they would be happy to donate if they could have a tax receipt.

One day’s pays would barely be noticed if spread out, and it might help everyone regain the sense of ownership in the school.

Name withheld by request

 

(9 April 2014) As a cost-saving measure, have you considered instituting something similar to “Rae Days” — having everyone take one or two days off unpaid? While I appreciate this is not a long-term solution, it may provide the University with some breathing room, and help us reach our goal of a balanced budget. I have mentioned this to others, and many have had their own suggestions that are in a similar vein.

Melissa Beamer
Manager, Recruitment Services