Special Session in partnership with the Lethbridge Public Library Tuesday April 9th from 7-9pm at Lethbridge Public Library
Alberta’s March 7 provincial budget featured a 6.8 percent cut to basic operational grants for post- secondary institutions, compounded by revocation of an earlier promise of a 2% increase. The Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education has also sent “letters of expectation” to each of the 26 post-secondary institutions in the province, requiring universities and colleges to work more closely with each other. “What we have right now is an orchestra of some virtuosos — they are fabulous at what they do,” Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said, “but unfortunately, this orchestra doesn’t have a conductor and they’re all playing their own tune and they’re off-beat.” Minister Lukaszuk has also indicated he will expect more emphasis on commercializable research at Alberta’s universities.
The University of Lethbridge faces a 7.3% operating grant cut, reducing the operating budget by $11.9 million. Implementation of these cuts will begin within the next six weeks and, combined with cuts at Lethbridge College, they will have wide-ranging effects on students, faculty, support staff, and the Lethbridge economy. However, there are bigger questions raised by a ‘revolution from above’ indicated in the Letters of Expectation sent to Alberta universities and colleges. Could acceptance of these letters affect the role of Boards and academic councils? Could a more directive and powerful ministry, headed by a cabinet minister willing to intervene directly in the details of university and college business, enable the Alberta Government or a political party to dictate what can and cannot be taught or researched in future? Does emphasis on the economic role of post-secondary institutions and the commercial prospects of research, reinforce or undermine the public interest? What should be the civic role of post-secondary education generally, and of universities in particular? Our speakers will discuss these issues in relation to the budget crisis, and will respond to audience questions and comments.
Shannon Phillips, Director of Policy Analysis for the Alberta Federation of Labour. Dr. Bill Ramp, Associate professor, Sociology, University of Lethbridge. Dr. Robert Sutherland, President, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Assn’s.; professor of neuroscience, University of Lethbridge Dr. Chris Nicol, Dean, Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Lethbridge Julia Adolf, Student, VP-Academic, U of L Students’ Union; serves on General Faculties Council & Senate. Leyland Bradley, Student, Board member of LPIRG, News Editor of the Meliorist. Armin Escher, Student; President, U of L Student Union; serves on U of L Board of Governors.