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Capilano U votes to delay decision on controversial course-cutting budget
Capilano University president Kris Bulcroft is still facing down a mutiny over millions of dollars in program cuts in her administration’s budget — a budget the university’s board of governors will withhold judgment on until June 11.
The board voted Tuesday night to send the controversial balance sheet back to the senate budget committee with a directive to find money to cover the university’s shortcomings without slashing programs and cutting courses.
On Monday, a last-minute teachers’ union request for an injunction against Tuesday’s board vote was adjourned in B.C. Supreme Court. The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators was seeking to block the CapU board from voting on the budget until next month, claiming the board hadn’t had adequate time to consider other cost-saving options over program cuts.
It appears the board agreed with them.
What the court granted instead was an adjournment, meaning the vote would go ahead Tuesday, as planned. But the court also secured a commitment from CapU to address the concerns of its adult basic education students in Squamish, one of the programs on the chopping block.
“We still maintain that the proposed budget moves that Capilano is intent on making will move the university in the wrong direction,” FPSE president Cindy Oliver told The Outlook Monday in a prepared statement. “We believe there are better outcomes than what the administration is proposing. However, it’s an issue that the FPSE will have to raise with the next minister of advanced education.”
Faculty, students and administrators at the North Vancouver university have been united in protest against Bulcroft, whose April 24 budget recommended the dismantling of many of the school’s visual arts, technology and science programs in order to make up for an existing $1.3-million shortfall.
On Friday, a forum moderated by CapU’s conflict resolution advisor and featuring a lengthy Q&A period with Bulcroft drew more than 300 attendees, many carrying signs denouncing the president’s move to slash nearly $3 million from the school’s programming budget.
Many of the president’s detractors say her administration is transforming the school from a local arts and humanities-focused institution to a hub for business-oriented international students.
“It is more than a money issue. It’s about restructuring the university and foregoing certain programs that have been at Cap for a long, long time,” CapU French language instructor Catherine Gloor told The Outlook at a campus rally Friday. “There has been money that has been distributed to other programs on campus — and they’re just not the art-oriented programs.”
But Bulcroft, entering her third year as president, deflected accusations of department-specific cuts at Friday’s forum, saying while there were no academic criteria for the program cuts, the school should have an overall academic plan moving forward.
Bulcroft told the hundreds gathered at the forum that she would not bow to the slew of allegedly hateful and misogynistic attacks she has personally endured since tabling the budget last month.
“I know I can stand up to this kind of hatred and denigration but I worry about all the women I see sitting before me today who may also be experiencing the remnants of the old patriarchy,” she said, before launching into an explanation of the school’s dire finances.
“Unsustainable” is how she described CapU’s funding model, while slamming those in the community who have resisted her administration’s attempts to keep pace with the changing economics of higher education.
“Sometimes I fear our passion for this place will simply love us to death,” Bulcroft said. It came in response to a veteran faculty member’s question about how arts programs are supposed to attract much-needed donors while the university is slashing the same departments.
“I wonder what message we’re sending out there to the public in terms of the strife and conflict they see internally and whether donors in all areas will say, ‘Capilano? My money’s not going there,’” Bulcroft said.