Nfld. & Labrador

Cutting staff 'last thing' MUN wants to do: Noreen Golfman

Following criticism from student leaders, MUN's provost says there are strategic reasons behind the university's high number of administrative staff.

'You can't have a half-assed university with half-assed staff': MUN provost

Noreen Golfman, MUN's provost and vice-president (academic), says there are strategic reasons behind the university's high numbers of administrative staff. (CBC)

The provost of Memorial University says cutting staff is the last thing the university wants to do and is defending the school's number of administrative personnel.

"You can't have a half assed university with half assed staff," said Noreen Golfman, MUN's provost and vice-president (academic). "You've got to supply the right kind of people to be managing a very complex institution if you're going to be taken seriously as a university in 2015."

"The last thing we want to do is lay people off."

$40M lopped from government funding

As the university proposes tuition hikes, student leaders are criticising MUN's staffing levels and the high salaries of senior-level administration. MUN wants to raise international and graduate tuition by 30 per cent and increase residence fees to help make up for $40 million in government cuts.

When you start cutting at the personnel level,  you're really undermining your mission and your purpose.Noreen Golfman, MUN provost

The university presently has a total of 3,086 administrative staff and 2,139 academic staff. There are 121 senior administrators making between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.

Golfman said that there are important reasons for the increase in staff over the past decade, citing the 33 per cent growth in medical students as a prime example.

"That's been a lot of growth, and that's a big chunk of change Training every doctor is a lot more money than training say, an arts student," she told CBC's Central Morning Show.

Cutting staff not seen as solution

Golfman said that cutting staff is not a smart way of finding efficiencies. Instead the university will be first looking to save in their day-to-day operations.

"When you start cutting at the personnel level,  you're really undermining your mission and your purpose," she said. "It's everything from the trivial, the kind of supplies you might be using like paper. Do you have a redundancy in the system, do you have more than one office doing the same thing? 

Memorial University is facing roughly $40 million in provincial government cuts. (CBC)

"Any plant of this size is going to have the potential for savings in those kind of basic operational efficiencies."

Golfman says that while MUN's cuts are severe, many universities in Canada are experiencing similar budgetary constraints.

"We're not alone in this," she said. "It's very very sobering to have to think about the future while you're trying to enhance your reputation and be frankly a player in the global picture of education."