Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2002

Protest Delays Cape Breton Budget

Plans by University College of Cape Breton administrators to cut programs and eliminate positions were put on hold when UCCB's board of governors voted last month to delay a controversial new budget.

Board members voted unanimously March 15 to table president Jacquelyn Scott's budget after lengthy deliberations at a public meeting which drew an overflow crowd of observers. "Her vision is not the vision of faculty and staff and is certainly not the vision of students," said Allen Britten, president of the faculty association and a member of the board of governors.

Governors told the Cape Breton Post they didn't have enough details to "move ahead with dramatic cost-cutting proposals which would profoundly impact on the future role and direction of the university."

Faculty and students weighed in with their own critique, observing that the budget package totalling $37.8 million - nearly 6.4 million more than last year's budget - would see almost 50 teaching positions eliminated or reduced to part-time, program cuts, a 5.9 per cent increase in tuition and a 13 per cent increase in administrative costs.

Britten said the budget would have eliminated a number of programs which play a vital role in Cape Breton's social and economic development. "We are not suggesting that cuts don't need to come - just that they be done right," he said.

Student union posters circulated in advance of the meeting criticized the president's $75,000 travel budget, which the union says is already higher than that of almost every provincial premier, and is set to increase to $80,000 this year. As well, the union questioned a top-heavy administrative structure. UCCB has eight deans at a university with only 3,000 students.

An alternative budget prepared by faculty and student union leaders presented earlier to the board cut $2 million from administrative operations and preserved programs and staff positions.

The administration claimed all avenues had been explored in the budget advisory process. "Our look at the information has been exhaustive," Scott told reporters following the board meeting. "It's always possible someone will bring something at the last minute that you haven't considered." She says the administration will provide information about the budget before the next board meeting on April 26, but there are no plans to reconvene the budget advisory committee.

Britten, whose father was one of the founding members of UCCB, said he is hopeful the president and the administration will come back with a very different budget. "I fear that this administration is destroying what my father started, and I'm not going to allow it," he said.