May 2, 2014 8:45 am

University of Saskatchewan’s plan for overhaul concern for NDP

Opposition NDP concerned about TransformUS overhaul at U of S, government says everything is under control.

File / Global News

REGINA – The Opposition NDP is raising concerns in the legislature about an overhaul of the University of Saskatchewan, but the government says everything is under control.

The Saskatoon-based university has released a plan that includes cutting jobs, reorganizing the administration and dissolving some programs to try to save about $25 million.

NDP Leader Cam Broten says those on campus are worried about the plan.

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“Students, faculty, staff have really been on edge over the past year as the TransformUS process has gone on. The report that was released (Wednesday) provides some information, but not the details that really can put people at ease,” Broten said Thursday.

“There are many students who are worried about whether or not their programs will be there. And there are many faculty that are worried about their security and the future of the university because what’s happening now … can have long-term implications, ramifications for the university and the entire province.”

MORE: Staff, students, faculty rally against TransformUS

Broten noted that the plan calls for the School of Public Health to be rolled into the College of Medicine, which he says could jeopardize the college’s recently earned international accreditation.

He also said he’s concerned that the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education “is on the chopping block.” The plan calls for the centre to be dissolved by the end of the year.

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris said concerns from students, staff and faculty are not being overlooked.

“What we do know is that there is a general direction now set. I’ve been given every assurance and reassurance that due diligence and due process will be followed on campus, especially when it comes to any and all programs that are academically focused,” said Norris.

The restructuring is an internal university matter that will make the school better and not jeopardize any accreditation, he added.

The plan is part of a bigger response by the University of Saskatchewan to address a projected $44.5-million deficit in its operating budget by 2016.

It was developed by the provost’s committee and includes proposals to cut three dean positions as part of reducing top levels of leadership by 23 per cent.

The provost’s committee warns that almost every level of the university and virtually every employee will be affected by a new organizational design. It says due to the magnitude of the changes being contemplated, the journey will be “arduous.”

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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