| 31 January, 2013 | thesheaf.com |
El Presidente: Who’s to blame for our deficit? TRAVIS HOMENUK Even though Ilene BuschVishniac makes $400,000 a year and gets a free house, I feel for her. Like Obama still trying to stabilize the U.S. economy after Bush’s shitstorm term in office, Busch-Vishniac has to clean up the University of Saskatchewan’s financial situation in a way that is manageable, sustainable and costeffective. In other words, she can’t allow the U of S to see its projected $44.5-million deficit become a reality. Our institution will not survive if the administrative powers that be do not control the coming financial crisis. This is no easy task. Tough decisions must be made, and Busch-Vishniac is the one who will be held accountable for massive job losses on campus and looming cuts to departments and programs. I’m angry that the university is in this position, but at least Busch-Vishniac is taking a stand in order to better the university in the long term. We’ll probably see more cuts to the programs that are less highly valued by government than more commercial research-friendly ones. Programs that receive outside funding will be favoured to continue and increase said funding opportunities. It’s not like the arts are going to receive more funding in the years to come anyway. We’ve already been beat up, cut up and tortured. Funding usually goes to engineering and agriculture. Methinks I should have gone and fulfilled my dream of becoming part of a travelling European dance troupe in lieu of getting my BA, but one shouldn’t live with regrets, right? I’ll keep my tambourine tucked away in my closet — for now, anyway. But who is to blame for the situation we’re in? I’m very curious as to what Peter MacKinnon was doing while he was president of this university for 13 years. It seems to me his administration was sleeping at the wheel when it came to money management. They obviously based spending decisions on
money the U of S requested, but had not yet received, from the provincial government. Riddle me this: MacKinnon was president of the U of S for 13 years. His salary started at $290,000 and progressed upward from there. After 13 years, he decided he’d had enough of being the boss, and left. He will make close to $1 million over the next two years while on paid leave,
even though he won’t return to the university after that. Then in walks Ilene BuschVishniac, our first female president. Somewhere between her start date and now, the financial gurus on campus projected a $44.5-million deficit by 2016. Busch-Vishniac will deal with the fallout from MacKinnon’s term. In what way is that fair?
I don’t think Busch-Vishniac is responsible for this projected shortfall, since she just arrived in office. If anyone should be sending out emails to the student body, or issuing layoff notices, it should be MacKinnon. But where is MacKinnon? He’s off writing a book, of course. Let’s just hope it’s not about how to successfully manage a university, because I don’t think
Pres Vish . Ilene B n u U of iac preve schnt S a $4 from de ed the 4. ve “We 5-million loping rule defic the it. girls world, !”
anyone will buy it. I don’t want to deny the good MacKinnon did while he was president, but institutions — perhaps unfortunately so — are about bottom lines and budgets. Students and their educations should ideally be the priorities for administration, but truly, if the university is financially unstable, we will all sink and drown with it. It’s lovely that MacKinnon restored the College Building, expanded programs and increased relationships with communities in and around Saskatchewan. But why are we projecting such a large deficit? Why, I ask you, why? MacKinnon oversaw continued spending increases on campus, with money the U of S had not actually received from the government. Receiving a 2.1 per cent increase in lieu of the 5.8 per cent increase in funding the U of S was expecting — and not changing the budget after the fact — is merely one example of poor money management by MacKinnon’s administration. Indeed, MacKinnon focused far too heavily on infrastructure during his term, ignoring the university’s operation. I want to shake my finger at MacKinnon in disgust over this deficit. It really does seem as though he oversaw the university’s slow but sure dip into this deficit. If Busch-Vishniac is able to pull the U of S out of its financial crisis in the years to come, I vote we erect a monument for her right in front of the Peter MacKinnon Building. Its plaque will read, “We run the world, girls.” This situation is most unfortunate. Our first female president — a minority in her field — will be held accountable for the success or failure of this institution. Our current financial crisis is not the fault of our new president, so cut the woman some slack. Busch-Vishniac is taking the steps needed to prevent us from hitting the red. If you think administration needs to be questioned or yelled at, call up MacKinnon. I’m sure his book can wait.
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The Sheaf - January 30, 2013