Universities across Canada and the U.S. have been greatly impacted by the current economic crisis. Trinity Western University has weathered many challenges since its inception in 1962. Today, as Canada's premier Christian University, we again face significant difficulties. To secure the financial robustness necessary to achieve our long term vision for educational vitality, I am developing a broad financial strategy in consultation with TWU's Board of Governors and the University Policy Council.
Let me outline the measures, many of which are already underway, that will enable us, together, to respond to this economic crisis with confidence. We are not impervious to this challenge. It will be a refining fire. We will not be the same, but I believe we will be changed for the better.
The University is well-positioned to deal with the economic challenges because of the many strategic improvements that we introduced over the past two and a half years. If we had not made these changes, we would not have had the firm foundation necessary to undergo this trial.
Some of these strategic improvements include:
Providentially, these initiatives position the University well to address the current economic challenges.
For all the organizational improvements that have been undertaken, the economic downturn is placing great pressure on the University and its constituents - faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and donors. We must now take further action to equip us to move forward.
We are resolved to plan and act in ways that will secure our preferred future and protect our educational vitality. We need to make tough decisions to reduce non-essential costs, while protecting the heart of our operation. We must ensure that best business practices are carried out in all areas so that priorities are set and efficiencies achieved to deliver campus-wide cost reductions. In anticipation of restraint measures, we instituted a hiring freeze and established a process to oversee hiring for essential positions. We are sharply aware that we must carefully lower overall costs of faculty and staff compensation. At the same time, we urgently need to increase our endowment and scholarships in order to manage student net tuition costs.
During the past year, the University Policy Council and Cabinet have worked with campus budget managers to strategically reduce and adjust the operational costs of the University. Further, I have mandated the following budgetary adjustments: a 7% reduction in the University's comprehensive budget; a continuing commitment to the current hiring freeze and replacement review process; and the suspension of all faculty and staff salary increases and enhancements. The University's commitment to salary enhancement will remain an institutional priority and will be reviewed quarterly in light of student enrolment and emerging economic circumstances.
In the short term, these decisions will enable us to provide fundamental stability, strengthen the core operation, and preserve quality. For the long term, I have charged Dr. Dennis Jameson, the Provost, with a new mandate: to engage in a comprehensive University redesign exercise. The net outcome of this redesign exercise will be to 1) increase operational and program efficiencies, 2) create a sustainable business model by permanently reducing the overall expense structure of the University to meet the financial imperatives within a two-year period, and 3) promote the delivery of appropriately resourced, high quality educational programs and experiences.
We are committed to unprecedented strategic action so that we can achieve these goals. And I am convinced that this community can rise to the challenge, and in many ways has already begun to work in new, more efficient ways. Thank you for that early commitment to strengthening our stewardship and best practices. I am heartened by your desire to see this through together.
Today, more than perhaps ever before, we need to monitor and be responsive to the dynamic economic environment, yet resolve to focus on our desired future.
Our Envision the Century strategic directions document outlines our long commitment to being a particular kind of university. Our essence is Jesus Christ, and our ends are to be a place of exceptional discovery, learning, and engagement, so that through our students, alumni, faculty and staff, the world may experience Christ's truth, compassion, reconciliation, and hope. This document will continue to guide us as we look to the future. I encourage you to reflect on these foundational statements.
Despite the difficulties we face, we will continue to be inspired by our higher purpose, to enter into the role of education, scholarship, and service with the same commitment to excellence. Thank you! We go forward together.
Last Updated: 2009-02-04