Board delays Capilano University cuts

The executioners axe is on hold for a number of Capilano University programs but only for a month.

CapUs board of governors voted Tuesday to put a hold on approving the proposed 2013-14 budget, which is facing a $1.3-million shortfall.

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After faculty and students appealed for more consultation before cuts to arts and computer programs are implemented, the board voted to postpone the cuts until its June 11 meeting. That gave school officials four more weeks to research and possibly propose a new plan.

The proposed cuts also include reductions to programs offered at the CapU Squamish campus, including its entire adult basic education program.

Legally, the university was required to hand out staff layoff notices by Wednesday. However, those layoff notices can be rescinded if staff are no longer being laid off when a new budget proposal comes back to the board.

More than 100 students, teachers and members of the public packed the Birch buildings cafeteria area where the meeting was held Tuesday evening. CapU president Kris Bulcroft told the crowd officials are facing brutal decisions and have pursued every avenue to secure funding, such as seeking out increased government funding, to no avail. However, she agreed more time is needed to fully investigate every option.

There are other recommendations that warrant the boards attention, she said.

As options, Bulcroft suggested trimming most ongoing capital funding projects, not replacing furniture, and not hiring for new positions that are critically needed in a number of areas.

Bulcrofts motion to delay the proposed budget was met with a standing ovation those in attendance. But that didnt stop them from digging into what they called the deeper problem: communication.

Capilano staff and members of the Capilano Faculty Association asked for collaborative efforts with the board in the future.

Looking around at the faculty here, Im incredibly impressed by how intelligent, thoughtful, brilliant the faculty members are, said Justin Kalef of CapUs philosophy department, stating it was very odd they werent consulted during the budget process. He asked for more involvement.

I hope very much in the future that will become a part of the process more than it has so far.

Nearly every speaker echoed Kalefs sentiments, reiterating the lack of consultation, the short-notice on cancelling programs and laying off staff, and asking for a more creative budget.

CapU student Taylor Smith said Capilano is special to her and asked the board not to damage what has become her second home.

This is not just an institution, Capilano is a home, she said. Capilano offers a diverse education which you could spend your whole life looking for.

The delay is formally supported by CapUs Senate, a collaboration of faculty, administrators and students which advises the board of governors.

The proposed budget cuts would affect 400 students including some not currently enrolled, Bulcroft said.

She stated the boards reasoning for the particular programs to be cut came down to their curriculum involving enrolments (the size of classes and speed of enrolment); revenue generated versus subsidy; synergy between other departments in school; and how many demographics the programs hit.

It is the long-term sustainability of this institution that is in the best interest of all of us, she said.

In the weeks since the proposed budgets announcement, Capilano students took to protesting the cuts by draping art pieces on campus in black cloth, as well as taking a chainsaw and sledgehammers to public art pieces installed on campus.

An injunction from the Supreme Court of B.C. also commits the school to address concerns from the Squamish campus adult basic education staff. The board did not speak about the injunction at the meeting.

An online petition opposing the planned program cuts has reached 8,000 signatures. For more information visit capilanofaculty.ca or capilanou.ca.

newsroom@nsnews.com

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