MUN faculty association concerned over spending, infrastructure

The head of Memorial University's faculty association says the student union isn't alone in its concerns about how the university is spending its money.

The head of Memorial University's faculty association says the student union isn't alone in its concerns about how the university is spending its money.

George Jenner, an Earth Sciences professor, cites a 23 per cent growth in staff and a five per cent increase in student enrolment, as well an higher administrative staff than academic.

The university presently has a total of 3,086 administrative staff and 2,139 academic staff. 

"Is this excess of administrative capacity actually being used towards the university's core requirements, which are teaching and learning, and research?" Jenner rhetorically asked.

"[We want] less on marketing and publicity and some of these peripheral things that the university seems to get so much enjoyment out of."

Noreen Golfman, MUN's provost and vice-president (academic) said Tuesday that there are reasons for the increase in staff over the past decade, including the 33 per cent growth in medical students.

Poor infrastructure

Moerover, Jenner said MUN may not be making the right decisions when it comes to infrastructure, as the university looks for money to make up for a $10-million lost in the provincial government's budget.

It was noted in auditor general Terry Paddon's 2014 report into Memorial University's financial spending that $144.8 million was needed to address urgent deferred maintenance over the next five years. 

As the university looks to prioritize infrastructure needs, Jenner wonders why it purchased the old Battery Hotel at the base of Signal Hill in St. John's.

"Why did they spend $10-million dollars to buy a 30 or 40-year-old building off campus and then another $20-million dollars to renovate it?" Jenner said. "Would it not have been more cost-effective to build a new building on campus to do the same thing?"

Jenner said faculty want to see what the university's long-term plan is to deal with the significant challenges it's facing. 

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