Mount Royal University president responds to budget dispute
'No decisions' have been made, says David Docherty
The president of Mount Royal University says he's sorry for the recent confusion about the institution's budget.
He took questions Tuesday morning from angry faculty members, who say they were told last week to draft spending cuts.
But David Docherty said no decisions have been made about the budget for the upcoming year.
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"What we're trying to do is get as much information as possible," Docherty told reporters. "I know this answer may not satisfy people but I want to be clear that we can be as honest and open and as transparent as possible by saying 'Here's where we're at right now.'"
Last week, the Mount Royal University Faculty Association said that MRU administration had sent an email to the deans of each faculty, asking them to find reductions totaling $4.3 million for the 2016/17 budget and giving them a deadline of March 29 to reply with proposals.
'We need to move forward'
Faculty members said they feared the cuts would diminish the quality of education, but Docherty countered last Thursday, saying they weren't seeking budget cuts, but rather, "rationale around requested budget increases."
Docherty said he wants staff to know there have been misunderstandings, and said he is taking responsibility for that.
"I'm sorry for the fact that faculty and others had to go through the exercise that they did and I think in moving forward, we need to make sure that we're working in as collaborative a fashion as possible and I think today was the start of that by explaining exactly what part of the systematic problems were," he said.
Docherty said this is the "start of the budget-making process."
"Today, I think, was a day where we've tried to put more on the table," he said.
However, it appeared that faculty members were no closer to understanding what exactly Docherty was asking them to do. Members present questioned the point in asking for cuts if no decisions had been made, and when asked if they understood Docherty's explanation of the university's budget situation, fewer than half of those present raised their hands.
Just days after last week's dispute, the official in charge of academic spending, Provost Kathy Shailer, abruptly left the school.
When asked if her departure was related, Docherty said personnel matters are highly confidential and he won't talk about them.
With files from the CBC's Scott Dippel and Evelyne Asselin