With the new Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) system being implemented at Wilfrid Laurier University, many staff and faculty have been publicly expressing concerns regarding how the new budgeting system will affect the school as a whole.
At the last senate and board meeting, held on Oct. 16, the decision to officially implement IPRM was to be voted on, but was pushed back to the next senate and board meeting in November due to concerns that were raised by different faculties.
“There is a sense that the university will be sustaining cuts in the future,” expressed David Monod, chair of the history department.
“It’s clear to me that something has to be done to create a budget process, so IPRM is one of the various approaches that can be adopted to set priorities.”
However, Monod also explained that there is some concern over what departments the IPRM system will validate as needing more funding, or consequently seeing cutbacks.
“There’s a sense these days that the arts [programs] aren’t being valued … in our society,” he explained. “Arts education is no longer valued in our community … the fear about any budgeting process that identifies priorities is that those priorities won’t be the arts, because those aren’t the priorities that at the moment our society as a whole favours.”
Peter Elgin of the sociology department also voiced concerns to The Cord regarding the IPRM system.
“What immediately comes to mind for me, we already have a fairly elaborate system in place for evaluating programs, and indeed individual faculty,” he said. “What is essentially a presidential decision, and describes itself as a planning exercise to do with resource allocation, is going to assess programs as to whether they are going to be enhanced or simply maintained or indeed phased out.”
“Planning needs to be done, I’m not saying that’s not the case, but it needs to be done in a way that respects the academic nature of this institution,” he added.
Orna Duggan, Laurier’s director of institutional research, explained that at the last senate meeting, concerns raised regarding IPRM were discussed.
“We talked about the processing and to what extent that process will help us achieve the working groups that we want to put together [and] be able to deliver the structure of IPRM within the regulations and confines of the university,” she said. “There was a general discussion at the last senate meeting and the plan for the next meeting is about the specifics.”
She mentioned that 60 per cent of the planning task force committee will be made up of faculty members. “The structure of this process really gives faculty probably an unprecedented voice,” she said.
In addition, she noted that there has been communication with the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). She added that committees will be formed by January as expected.
Monod emphasized that these concerns being voiced regarding IPRM will benefit it in the long run.
“If it is passed, it will probably be a healthier thing from being discussed and debated,” he said.
“If the thing goes through, then I think we have to make our voices heard as part of a process, and make sure it’s the best and most constructive thing that can happen.”
Elgin echoed these thoughts and also addressed the role of students within IPRM.
“I’m surprised there isn’t more objection from students,” he said, emphasizing that students should be aware of what is happening.
“[Students] should be thinking about what the university means to them, and they should think about its internal decision making and what role they should have in decisions about academic programs that might affect whether they can get to do what they want to do at university.”
The next senate and board meeting is to be held on Nov. 26.
– With files from Justin Smirlies