Wilfrid Laurier University has eliminated 22 jobs and is planning more job cuts as the school attempts to reduce a projected deficit of $25 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The cuts, which were announced on Tuesday, come as the university's expenses continue to rise faster than its revenues.
'We really couldn't avoid finding some of the savings except through workforce reductions.' - Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor at WLU
"The university has been experiencing a decline in revenues, and a rapid growth or fairly quick growth in expenditures," said Laurier president and vice-chancellor Max Blouw. "The reason for reduced funding is that operating funding from government has been reduced, there are tuition constraints, the increased costs have to do with pension costs, aging infrastructure."
"Because salaries and benefits make up about 80 per cent of our operating budget, we really couldn't avoid finding some of the savings except through workforce reductions," added Blouw.
Blouw also says another factor affecting the school's budget is the conclusion of a partnership at the Brantford campus with Nipissing University. That will result in the reduction of hundreds of students over the next few years, he said.
The university said the staff cuts announced Tuesday affect support staff and management, but said faculty reductions will also occur in the form of a voluntary retirement program, a reduction in the number of teaching assignments available to contract academic staff and "the non-renewal of some limited-term academic appointments."
He adds the university hopes to make all of its adjustments without too much disruption to students and course materials.
"We are trying to make all of these cuts in a matter that preserves a very high quality of our undergraduate student experience at Laurier," said Blouw. "But nevertheless, if we can combine small sections of students, if we can defer a course, those kinds of opportunities might be taken."
Financial outlook challenged by faculty association
However, the president of Laurier's faculty association, Rob Kristofferson, says he's not yet convinced the school's finances are as dire as presented.
"People from the faculty association with expertise in accounting crunched the numbers, and we're having a hard time seeing the financial crisis," said Kristofferson. "We've been buying real estate, we've been hiring people, especially in administrative positions."
A newsletter by the association's chief negotiator Bill Salatka, who is also an an associate professor of accounting in Laurier's school of business and economics says total revenue for Laurier has increased each year since 2012, and that a total of $148.7 million was spent on capital assets.