Calgary

Facing cuts, U of C law dean says part-time instructors can donate their pay

In the wake of budget cuts that have already led the University of Calgary to slash 250 jobs, one department within the school approached its sessional employees with a request.

Some sessional instructors already donate their pay for tax receipts, dean says

Ian Holloway, dean of law at the University of Calgary, sent an email on Wednesday informing sessional instructors that they could give their salary back to the faculty to help offset the impact of budgetary cuts. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

In the wake of budget cuts that have already led the University of Calgary to slash 250 jobs, one department within the school approached its sessional employees with a request.

In an email sent to staff on Wednesday, Ian Holloway, dean of law at the university, said the department had been successful in saving approximately $700,000.

These savings were achieved through trimming faculty travel, not replacing departing faculty and only partially covering maternity leaves, according to the email.

But looming cuts could mean the department might have to cut some part-time sessional staff, Holloway wrote.

"[Now] a note that some of you might find crass, or even offensive — for which I apologize in advance," Holloway wrote.

Holloway said sessional instructors could give their income back to the university in return for a charitable donation tax receipt. According to Holloway, some instructors already donate their pay.

"We've had significant budget cuts at the university. When the budget cuts were first announced, I notified all the faculty and staff and our part-time teachers, letting them know what had happened," Holloway said in an interview with CBC. "I don't see the [part-time teachers] quite so often, so I wanted to keep them in the loop.

"I just wanted to let them know we'll have to tighten the belt when it comes to part-time teachers, too."

Within the department, sessional instructors are mostly full-time lawyers who teach a class based on their area of expertise, Holloway said. These instructors are paid a flat rate of $6,000.

"I know for some of them, they aren't doing it for the money. Very few are doing it for the money," he said. "They do it because they like the idea of giving back, they like the idea of engaging students.

"So if we can give them something of value that's worth as much to them as the cash, cash is worth a lot to me in the context of budget cuts."

Despite the budget crunch, Holloway said the suggestion wasn't meant to be interpreted as part of the department's strategy toward the reduction in funding.

"Within minutes of my note, I had a number of responses saying, 'Yeah, of course I'll give you back the money,'" Holloway said. "[Others said], 'Yeah, you can count on me.' But I'm not going to push it hard."

The Alberta government's 2019 budget provided $5.1 billion for Advanced Education operations, which represents a five-per-cent cut over the previous year.

Operating expenses were reduced by 12 per cent to $4.8 billion by 2022-23, largely by reducing provincial grants.

With files from Colleen Underwood

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