By Вen Li
It was revealed last week that up to 14 non-academic positions were cut from the Department of Fine Arts.
According to employees of the department, some former staff members were surprised to discover on Wed., May 15 that their positions had been terminated without prior notice. By Thu., May 16, the university had posted seven new job openings on the peopleclick.com web site, some for positions similar to those that were terminated.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 52 represents non-academic support staff at the University of Calgary. AUPE 52 Chair Dan Tilleman tried to clarify the situation on Friday.
"We should keep in mind why the university is going through this painful restructuring," said Tilleman in a communication to members. "I would suggest that it is due to a provincial mindset of deliberately underfunding public post-secondary education so as to shift funding to a more user pay, soft money funding approach, which translates into a not so subtle attack on tenure and full time, benefited employment opportunities for those providing this service."
U of C Vice-President External Relations Roman Cooney stated the cuts were necessary for financial reasons.
"It would not be possible to balance the budget without seeing an impact on students, faculty and programs," he said. "We have to acknowledge and recognize the university is in a very significant period of budget challenges."
The 14 positions abolished were due to the reorganization of the Fine Arts faculty required by budget cuts. Some departmental functions will be moved to the faculty level, and positions were eliminated in the process. According to Tilleman, two positions were lost due to the Art Slide Library moving to Information Resources, four were moved from the department to the faculty level, and one was a sessional position. Three management positions were also abolished.
According to Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Ann Calvert, the faculty must reduce its operating budget by approximately $600,000 over the next two years.
"These plans and changes have been developed with a goal to sustain program and student support while ensuring that our core administrative needs are met within our means as a faculty," wrote Calvert on Wed., May 14.
Both undergraduate and graduate students will be affected as a result of the restructuring. Student program advising will be consolidated with the Fine Arts central services. Support services for graduate programs will also be conducted through that office.
"Each department office will be provided with administrative support staff, whose main responsibility will be the direct support of the department, its academic programs, faculty members and students. In Art, Drama and Music, this staff will consist of two people; in dance there will be one full time office support person," said Calvert.