Funding cut prompts SFU hiring freeze

May 1, 2008

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By Stuart Colcleugh

SFU has implemented an immediate hiring freeze so it will have enough flexibility to address projected budgetary constraints in 2009–10 following the B.C. government’s surprise 2.63-per-cent cut in 2008–09 operating grants for all universities and colleges announced March 12.

The hiring freeze applies to all continuing staff and faculty positions except currently vacant positions for which interviews with candidates have already been held or scheduled, and positions funded from external revenue sources.

The freeze will continue until Sept. 30, 2008 — when it will be discontinued, extended or modified — while vice-presidents and deans and the financial planning task force consider options for managing further funding reduction.

Victoria’s abrupt funding cut last month left the university scrambling for ways to address a $6.3-million shortfall in its 2008–09 operating budget, a draft of which it had already submitted to the university’s board of governors.

To make up the shortfall, "our amended 2008–09 budget, which was approved by the board on April 23, reduces expenditures by an additional $4.6 million, increases revenues by $500,000 and calls on $1.2 million in cash reserves," says Pat Hibbitts, VP-finance and administration.

"Plus we anticipate a similar shortfall in our 2009–10 budget without some relief from government to cover inflation and career-progress costs."

Both the responsible vice-president and the VP-finance and administration must approve all hiring-freeze exemptions. Exemptions within the VP-finance and administration’s area must be approved by the VP-legal affairs. In the event of a dispute between vice-presidents, the university president’s decision will be final.

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