UPEI walks a fine line in new budget

Ryan Ross
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University president says delivering balanced budget will be difficult

Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, president and vice-chancellor at UPEI, in this Guardian file photo.

UPEI is facing challenges in trying to balance its budget, but that doesn’t mean there will be big program cuts, says the university’s president.

In an interview with The Guardian Monday, UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz also said the budget committee isn’t ruling anything out when it comes to balancing the books.

“During the preparation for any budget you leave everything on the table,” he said.

Although UPEI won’t release its budget until later this spring, work on it started in October through the budget committee made up of Abd-El-Aziz, the vice-presidents and the university’s comptroller.

The committee met with the deans, directors and managers to look at the possibilities for the coming budget year.

Abd-El-Aziz said a lot of the university’s costs are fixed, such as salaries that are set for the next few years.

What isn’t known is how much the province will give as an operating grant, which Abd-El-Aziz said makes up about half of the university’s budget.

“So any increase or decrease will have substantial effect on what we are going to do,” he said.

UPEI knew it was facing budgetary challenges last year too when the provincial government informed the school it was cutting three per cent of its funding. That left the university with almost $1.4 million less from the province and didn’t help an already tight budget.

Abd-El-Aziz said UPEI still needs to make sure the quality of the university’s education stays high.

“We don’t want the budget to dilute this great education and this great institution,” he said.

As part of Finance Minister Wes Sheridan’s plan to bring the province’s books back to balance, the government is expected to freeze spending in all departments for the next two years.

That makes it unlikely UPEI will get any extra money when Sheridan releases the budget next week.

But unlike the provincial government, which is expected to run a deficit, UPEI is mandated through legislation to balance its books.

Abd-El-Aziz said even with government support, UPEI is still facing some tough decisions, although he wants to make sure the university stays focused on students and the quality of the education they receive.

“At this point I will say no, there is no slashing of programs,” he said.

To help generate revenue, the university has options, including using the campus during the summer months for things like conferences and renting out residence rooms.

Another option is increasing tuition, which is one of the lowest in the Atlantic provinces and went up $200 last year for Canadian undergraduate students.

Abd-El-Aziz said he doesn’t want to see tuition increase beyond students’ ability to pay for their education.

“Before we actually think of increasing the tuition, we think we can increase revenue first,” he said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

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  • Jennifer Taylor
    March 24, 2013 - 06:40

    It is pretty clear that there is no moderating of comments on this site since 'insulting' seems to be the norm. I do not agree with the sarcastic comments which have been posted, although when one is criticizes as doing nothing but taking holidays and abusing power, a defensive response is understandable. And I do not agree that we all know about the abuse and harrassment. If I did, I would speak up. I have sent this link to our current fair treatment person, and the VP academic. Since all of you don't post your names (which I disagree with, since it allows people to sling insults all they want), and any fair treatment investigation has to be confidential, it is impossible for me to do much else. As I have stated before (as myself, and as 'Another prof'- since I didn't think my comment was posted), I think there are many good people at UPEI, but I am not so naive to think there are not problems. And I do not look the other way. Universities will have to operate differently in order to respond to changing needs, and as a member of the Campus Wellness committee, I think UPEI is working towards that. I certainly am.

    • Good day . . .
      March 24, 2013 - 13:28

      Ms. Taylor, your comments really do provide some insight and they give us access to your values and perhaps, to some degree, they even reflect the values of UPEI. However, I am really not sorry if you feel that this anonymous comment warrants censorship, or as you put it, "moderation". Good day to you Madam, good day to you.

  • TIS, not again
    March 21, 2013 - 12:29

    So sorry that my irony has gone over heads/been taken badly. None of it was aimed at students since I also am still a student, although now graduated from UPEI, and have children who have also graduated from that great university (no irony intended). Yes, there is student debt, but it's lower from UPEI than from say, UNB or Windsor (my other unis). I have to pay for education, just like everyone else, and if someone thinks that in this economic climate education is free, then they're wrong. UPEI has some of the best professors I've met. It's terrible to generalize about the teaching at UPEI based on the bad experiences with a few. UPEI's teaching schedule is no different than any other university - just look it up, and, many of the professors have to teach spring and summer session to pay for their expenses: mortgages, rent, vehicles, children, tuition, conferences, etc. Please stop picking on the people who, for the most part, give our children (now young adults) the best of themselves, work countless hours marking papers, meeting with students to help them, keeping up with new teaching methods, and participating in on-and off-campus committees to improve the university, and are active and mostly respected members of the Island community. And, please, before you start slinging mud about human rights cases because of students being abused and harassed, check your facts.

    • Former student
      March 22, 2013 - 01:06

      There are many abuses of students and I would suggest that you get YOUR facts straight. There is an investigation at present regarding UPEI bringing a student into mediation, after she made complaints of sexual harassment, not in good faith, breaching the contract only to harass her again. That is only 1 example, There are too many abuses at that school. Abuses of power, sexual harassment is rampant. Checked my facts, and do have it quite correct. Nice try with the cover-up, but falls on deaf ears to those who have been abused and harasssed.

    • more of the same TIS, NOT?
      March 22, 2013 - 07:55

      The sad truth is you are probably correct, "UPEI's teaching schedule is no different than any other university." But that's the systemic problem facing us, no? And once again, your comments that appear to privilege the needs of the professors (mortgages, rent, vehicles) over the needs of the students (high quality instruction) once again derails the argument and distracts from the point of so many of these comments. In fact, the statement that professors "work countless hours marking papers" may be the most revealing. What is this, 1984? And I don't mean to be "nasty" but you should really think about how you use both the word "irony" and your condescending comment that your thoughts are "over our heads".

  • The Irrelevant Show
    March 20, 2013 - 10:47

    My father always said that he liked a good battle of wits but that it was unkind to engage an unarmed person... Yes, it's true. ALL professors have 4 months of paid vacation, which they spend on the beaches of the Mediterranean and the Bahamas. Their sabbatical years are spent - gloriously - in their chateaux in France and Italy with small side trips to the Balkans and Bali. They eat caviar, pate, and lobster while drinking Jeroboams of the finest Champagne. They return to their universities rested, well-fed, out-of-shape, but ready for the next years of hard slogging trying to teach our children who are (because of our indulgences) smart-phone addicted and over-fed. And, please note, that I have remained courteous, if not sarcastic throughout this post. Thank you.

    • From an unarmed student, not yet a person, eh?
      March 20, 2013 - 18:58

      If nothing else, this comment resonates with the kind of condesending crap so many of us students have to deal with in the classroom. However, who holds the power? As one commenter said, "sort and rank!" What student would be so foolish as to challenge the status quo in that setting? Students don't have tenure, we just have tuition. A lot of tuition . . .

    • Agree with "An Unarmed Student"
      March 21, 2013 - 02:31

      You are very right, "unarmed student". A huge power differential where the abuse of power very often results in verbal abuse, condescending comments, sarcastic and just plain rude responses, as shown in 'the irrelevant show'. Rather disconcerting and unsettling. A common complaint of students at UPEI. I am told by many students that it is bad and they are faced with far worse problems than tuition costs in their quest for an education. There are many violations against students where some have been so violated and abused they are forced to go to the Human Rights Commission. What kind of educational institution would perpetuate abuses of power and/or violations of any kind towards students who are paying tuition to get an education, and not expecting or intending to pay tuition for the consequences with the known abuses of power and/or sarcastic, irrelevant shows.

  • Let's get some perspective here
    March 19, 2013 - 21:37

    Most successful Canadians believe that higher education has been crucial to their success (87%). Some, but certainly not all, believe that the system needs to be reformed. See an interesting graphic here, and add your own two cents: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/vote-how-relevant-is-canadian-higher-education/article4564244/

    • Have gotten some perspective
      March 21, 2013 - 05:11

      Most successful Islanders believe that going to UPEI has been a critical factor to their debt load (99%) which has caused them to have to move to pay off some of this debt or go on into other programs, at other univerisities, that allow for their successes (99%). Most successful Canadians who have taken pharmacy, medicine, law, believe that higher education has been crucial to their success (99%). Most who have attended UPEI realize that there are problems engrained into this particular elitist, closed, aka non-transparent, society that have gone beyond any point where the problems can even be managed little less fixed (99%). Most agree that UPEI has outlived it's usefulness, except for those who are getting UPEI paycheques, because UPEI has not even attempted to solve the multitude of problems within their departments, years of mismanagement, and bad management, to the point that for quite some time, UPEI has been noted to be just a 'degree mill'. Those grads who have huge debt from attending UPEI and being paid low wages upon graduation; the taxpayers who are tired of wasteful funding where the graduates are not educated to contribute to society (and this is not due to the student's fault as they have been and still are led to believe that all degrees at UPEI will provide them with a better future), are tired of hearing how the problem is everywhere and UPEI is no different than other places. I think all taxpayers should have a choice to either contribute to Holland College or UPEI. I do not believe that funding a continued bad educational system that refuses to corrrect their faults,and/or problems is a good idea or productive for any of the stakeholders and certainly has become another bad drain on the society. (By the way, the percentages used are made up to show the professors that there are reasons why one cites their sources, and I am not a professional researcher, and I, at least, understand the reasoning for the need to cite sources)

    • Yikes . . .Caveat emptor.
      March 21, 2013 - 08:47

      When a man goes to bed with an itchy bum, he wakes up with a stinky finger.

  • To silly 'sentance'
    March 19, 2013 - 20:55

    Guessing from your response that you and prod prof must be one in the same. The profs get so much money from the grants. Produce the grants online and all the money that each grant gives each prof (for their work-ha) and pay a research asst, some money for this and that--the usuals--you know-- The profs make more on the grants than they do on any salary. Not a person who has been involved in a grant could ever claim what you had with a straight face--maybe too much time with the politicians.....back to sleep Sentance, or better yet, go on a vacation, maybe the president will include you on the next vacation

    • Sentance
      March 20, 2013 - 21:31

      I post under my own name, never anonymously. I know I've never received a penny of money from any grant I've ever been involved in. It goes to cover expenses related to the research. I'm certain it's standard practice for the grants of any of the major granting agencies, which comprise the majority of the grants we get - check out the webpages of the tri-council granting agencies and that will be clear. There might be cases where professors do consulting on the side as a private business, but that's not university business and has nothing to do with the point that was being made that professors have greatly upped their contribution to the university's finances through increased grants.

  • Jennifer Taylor
    March 19, 2013 - 20:48

    I normally do not read, or post, here since I find the comments nasty and personal. However, as 'another prof' for over two decades, I have to respond. This story is about the financial situation of UPEI, which is concerning. (and should be transparent). What it doesn't say is that this is happening all across the country, and is requiring universities to re-think they way that they offer programs. Liberal arts programs are being hit hard, and there is a growing perception that jobs must be an outcome of university programs. As a parent, I understand the parent who wrote here- we want the best for our kids, and return on our investment. However, the reality is that few university degrees can 'promise' a specific job, unless they are from a professional program, like engineering, dietetics or nursing. That is the role of colleges (although lines are becoming more blurry every year). I am not going to debate that topic, since it is a huge one one its own. My point is that universities DO understand that they need to change- but what the changes will look like from province to province remains unclear. For sure, we won't see everything turning into an e-learning only system. The nastiness here has focussed on one prof who was trying to defend what we do. While we ALL have co-workers that don't pull their weight, or do objectionable things, it is important to know that there are many profs at UPEI, and other universities, who value teaching and make it a priority. As Sentence notes, research grants cannot be used as personal income- ever. I know some business profs have private consulting fees, but that is a different matter. Yes, we are paid well (but not as much as dentists, lawyers and physicians, even though we go to school for a similar amount of time). And, yes, there are some people who have tenure who take advantage of the situation. But as with any work environment, the vast majority of faculty are working hard and have student's best interests at heart. Personally, I think there should be more accountability in universities for faculty 'performance'. I also think that some teachers shouldn't be teaching, some doctors have the bedside manner of a lizard, and some cops are racists. It isn't fair to paint all of these professionals with the same brush, and it isn't reasonable to assume that we are a bunch of 'fat cats' sitting up on the hill and going to Mexico instead of teaching. Please. Am I going to cite references? No- and, by the way, I found those comments particularly spiteful and immature. I will remind you of what it says before you submit your post: " We ask that users remain courteous. You may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content, which may be removed at our discretion". I am thinking someone needs to start cleaning up this site AND insisting that everyone publish their name. I did.

    • some of us aren't so privileged.
      March 20, 2013 - 11:09

      Dr. Taylor, what you see "particularly spiteful and immature nastiness" some of us see as attempting to identify real problems. Sure, some of the comments may target certain features of the university, however, the more substantive criticisms are aimed at systemic problems. Outdated teaching methodologies that are transmissional (rather than transactional) and the "sorting and ranking" feature that serves few and condemns many. Add to that, a place that 'proudly" gives priority to research, perhaps at the cost of teaching, and we've got a problem, don't we? Or is that concern just "spiteful, immature and nasty" too? Toss in certification inflation, rising costs that marginalize a significant percent of potential clients and the mess tends to grow, eh? Oh, and since you have tenure there's not much risk of backlash; some of us aren't so privileged. The comment that suggested that the "higher" in higher education may be the real problem? There's a point. No?

    • To Taylor
      March 21, 2013 - 02:58

      There are professors and others in higher positions who do as you say, "objectionable things", which harm students, abuses in power. Those in positions of power fall into 3 categories at UPEI: 1. Those who abuse their power to harm students; 2. Those who actively cover-up those 'objectionable things and further harm the student with silencing them through various bullying tactics'; and 3. The silent bystanders who see the harm and abuses towards students and say nothing. If the cover-ups would stop and those silent bystanders would speak up against unethical behavior, then those who do 'objectionable things' would be dealt with and off campus. It just takes 1 person to say "STOP", and refuse to allow such unethical behavior to continue. However, as it stands now, in a very abusive, bullying climate that has infiltrated the entire campus, those who do 'objectionable things', abuse their power to harm others, will be able to continue due to the actions of #2 group and the inactions of #3 group. All 3 groups are unethical and dangerous to students and would make for a bad environment anywheres. To excuse bad professors by stating there are bad apples in all professions is rather frightening in that this abuse is now acceptable and expected at UPEI and is just 'blown off' so there is no blame on anyone at UPEI. There are many things wrong at that university and there is lots of blame to go around. To hear that there are bad apples in all professions and bad apples at other universities does NOT and SHOULD NEVER be an acceptable excuse for the bad behavior or abuses in power of any professor, and does not excuse the professors at UPEI either. This is unacceptable. There needs to be transparency in all aspects concerning education and the running of a university, not just the funding.

    • Taylor needs to clean up her own nastiness
      March 21, 2013 - 04:27

      I quote professor Taylor who is complaining of others' postings as being "nasty". "some doctors have the bedside manner of a lizard, and some cops are racists"....who is being nasty now? The article is about UPEI , obvious mismanagement, which has led to some other known problems with the campus, such as incompetent professors and abuses of power, students spending large amounts of money to take programs that are being offered and promoted at UPEI while the university knows that when completing these programs, the students have not been educated in a program that would provide them gainful employment. Who benefits? the university and the professors who are paid to teach these programs. Who looses? The students, parents, society and taxpayers. But, to even question, or mention a problem, where these profs claim they want to improve, they are defensive and verbally attack the commenters. I do not see any room for improvement or even an opportunity for a constructive conversation to take place that could lead to any positive change at this campus. Then, when problems are identified, they are merely, according to these professors, problems that are everywhere. No, the comments have been specific problems that are specific to this university where such problems have not been handled in any transparent or ethical manner! Without taking responsiblity, and even recognizing that there are big problems on this campus, the problems will continue to worsen with the shown bad attitudes of professors that have poorly attempted to defend their dysfunctional educational system. You may not be 'fat cats' 'sitting on the hill going to Mexico' but you certainly appear to be 'smart mouthed', sarcastic, overpaid academics in the crumbling Ivory tower at UPEI which will end in rubble as it appears the problems have gotten so bad, that there is an acceptance to all wrongdoing, with the continual, no blame, no accountability. I would not care to be in a room with any of these professors discussing the possibility of change for the better. I certainly would not care to be in a room for any reason with the types of reactions the profs have given. And as for being paid the same as doctors, for example, you have got to be kidding me. You do NOT have the responsiblity, the type of education, and from some of the responses, the ability to even be compared to doctors. Get some perspective. Huge egos maybe? Professors at UPEI are overpaid for what they do and for their job performance at UPEI. As a parent, I would never allow my children to go to this university and have to deal with the defensive, sarcastic, blame others mentality not to mention the poor quality of education and lack of employment students face upon graduation. DEGREE MILL! from a fallen Ivory Tower.

  • To " Sentance"
    March 19, 2013 - 20:47

    You seemed to have all your bases covered; coming out and defending the provincial gov't- brownie points there--; Now, come to the rescue of the lazy, useless profs that cannot teach and don't care about the students, and that looks good for the president...more brownie points for you!....and even profs have brown noses....at least at UPEI, that is the only way to get to the top there... Such a disgraceful group of educators and waste of money!

  • jason d
    March 19, 2013 - 18:23

    Proud Prof....What world are you living in? Make friends with some of these people and see how much....or little they work. Tenure means a year "sabbatical" or OFF in laymens's terms.....then early retirement with a title. Go have a snooze with a good book.....

  • To the "Proud Prof"
    March 19, 2013 - 16:33

    To the 'Proud Prof": You compare research at large universities and small unversities; and say students are so lucky that you, great profs, at UPEI are strong at both teaching and research, using ranking in MacLeans to back your claim by stating "UPEI has consistently ranked (in MacLeans) as one of the most improved research schools in Canada". Well, it is shocking, that you, a professional researcher who spends so much time, all of your summers, for example, that you would use such an inappropriate citing to back your claim. MacLeans does not rank all universities in Canada because over 20 universities, some of the largest and most prestigious ones, have REFUSED to take part for the past 7 years. It resulted from a study conducted at the Uof Calgary which showed major problems with the ranking methodology that MacLeans used which caused over 20 universities to refuse to be part of the ranking (some of the largest and some of the most prestigious universities) . So, to make your claim, you, as a researcher, should have had, at the very least, made that bit of info known to your reader. What large universities and/or any universities were UPEI compared to when you cited MacLeans to back your claim them as one of the most improved? And, as for those research grants, profs are making a killing, so the 66,000 salary, is only a 'base salary'. Most of a profs salary comes from those lucrative grants compliments from taxpayers. I went to UPEI, then transfered, I do not consider myself fortunate to have the profs I did at UPEI,, it was a very bad situation at that university. There are huge issues with bullying and harassment as you must well know. In future, please be more accurate in your statements regarding your claims and backing such claims with citing research that does not COMPARE ALL UNIVERSITIES IN CANADA.

    • Another prof
      March 19, 2013 - 18:31

      I normally do not read or respond to these posts, since I often find the people who post are inevitably rude and cutting in their comments. I would prefer that noone be able to hide their identity- perhaps this conversation would be constructive rather than a personal attack. I have been a prof at UPEI for over two decades. Yes- and I care very much about my teaching. I also know many colleagues who do as well. These comments are an unjustified attack on one prof who had the audacity to defend UPEI, and, even worse, professors. I agree that UPEI is not perfect- no university or college is. And neither are all of its staff. Like many of you with co-workers, faculty hate to see any of our co-workers who are not doing a good job or seem to be shirking their responsibilities. It brings us, and the reputation of our university, down. But there are many, many profs at UPEI who are doing the best job that they can, care about their students and ARE working hard for their students, 12 months a year. Many are using active learning strategies, and we have had a high number of 3-M teaching award winners at UPEI. Yes, there is more pressure to do research than there used to be, but the majority of us work very hard to try and balance teaching and research. I never have more than one research project at a time so I can have honours and grad students (amazing experience for both of us, learning together), but still keep time for my undergraduate students, and my community work. Research grants (at least in the sciences) never benefit faculty on a personal level- perhaps you are referring to consultant projects that some faculty (e.g. business) take on. Not the norm, believe me. As for salaries? Yes, we do get paid well once we have been a faculty member for some time. But 'fat cats' we are not. Well, maybe there is a few (who have external incomes in addition)- but not people I work closely with! This story is about the financial problems at UPEI which is not a unique situation: the same- and worse- situations are facing universities across the country and we are seeing unprecedented cuts to programs in the past year. Those that are most under threat are the 'liberal arts', and there is an increased desire for programs that lead to employment/careers. As a parent, I completely understand why parents want their children to get jobs from their education. It is a huge investment, and we want the best for our kids. Unfortunately, no university can guarantee that a degree leads to a specific job, unless it is a professional school within the university, such as nursing, engineering or dietetics. I think we can all agree that universities must -and will- change to survive. We will have to continue to look at other models, including distance learning, changing teaching schedules,etc, in order to make this work. And we are adopting a new fair treatment policy and wellness initiatives that should improve issues with campus climate. And we will make it work. This little university has grown very fast- perhaps too fast. But it is our only Island university, and I wish that those of you who are so critical would not paint all of us with the same brush. Am I going to cite references for you? No- those comments really showed a deep seated anger and resentment which I am sad to see. I am glad that I get to see students and parents now, at graduation, and years later, who don't feel the way that you people do. I will remind you of the condition of use for this site: 'We ask that users remain courteous. You may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content'. Clean it up, and have a debate and discussion rather than slinging mud.

    • Sentance
      March 19, 2013 - 19:03

      If you knew anything about University research you'd know that Professors get none of the grant money for their own pocket. It goes to pay research assistants, buy equipment that otherwise the University might have to pay for and so on. Whatever you quibbles might be about Maclean's information the reality is that over the past decade research funding brought in by professors has skyrocketed at UPEI, well above levels for comparable universities in the region in data I've seen from a variety of sources.

    • to Sentance et al
      March 19, 2013 - 20:44

      right, "sentance" you must be one of those profs that are cleaning up and out on grants; I have worked on research projects and the PROFS at UPEI get LOTS of money for their hours worked-- Take your BS somewheres else "sentence", just typical upei...deny deny deny...lie lie lie You and 'proud prof' can take a summer vacation together to do your "research"-what a joke!

    • To sentance
      March 19, 2013 - 20:55

      The theme of "the quibbles" on this page seems to be more about the quality of the instruction in some areas of UPEI, the possible lack of sufficient instructional and fiscal accountability and the concern that given the capacities of UPEI, research may impede instruction in a very small liberal arts university. To most parents, research is not the indicator that drives the choice of where to send a young person to learn. So, to claim that research has increased may do something for McLeans, or the professors, but it sure doesn't do anything for me. In fact, given the current debates about UPEI's capacity to even sustain its current programs, I'm even more concerned about where I should send our children. However, to be fair, my concerns rest with all universities, not just our little school on the hill. Oh, and are you sure "professor" warrants being a proper noun . . . or, is that a quibble as well?

    • To "another prof"
      March 21, 2013 - 03:37

      You claim you have been a prof at UPEI for over 20 years. Then you are very much part of the huge problem that has continued to escalate at UPEI with harming students, abusing power, lack of transparency, lack of any accountability, problems with the direction of this school, problems with providing meaningful education for students etc. UPEI's reputation is basically in the toilet, so really, all of you are painted with the same toilet brush. If you had been there for 20 years, you would have had many opportunities to help change or stop the unethical behavior that now plagues the university. Stop finger pointing, it is a culture that is abusive and blames victims. You are certainly part of the problem in the very way you have responded to some type of criticism that certainly has hit a raw nerve for you. I would strongly suggest that UPEI "clean it up" as you say. Let's face it, you would well know that policies are NOT followed at UPEI, a stated and a known at UPEI. And, as for providing a valuable educational experience: No, you cannot guarantee jobs, but if you are offering and promoting a degree in "widget making" and there are no jobs in making widgets, then you need to stop teaching "widget making" and having students pay for 4 years of tuition to get a "widget making" degree. Stop all programs that no longer provide employment opportunities for students who go in debt getting one of UPEI's "widget making" degrees. This university is given money from taxpayers, and as a taxpayer, I am angry, as well as, the mother who claimed she is in debt when her children graduated without any employment opportunities. We, the taxpayers and parents are paying money to UPEI, and filters to the professors who are not offering the type of education and/or preparing the students for employment when they leave. Shut down all your "widget producing" degree programs for starters. Stop making excuses for unethical and incompetent behavior, and stop blaming others. From the responses of professors on this site, the problem is far worse than I could have imagined. I will no longer be donating to UPEI until there are major changes, violations against others stop, and there is transparency, AND accountability. And, when programs being offered are those types of programs where students can gain employement after their spending huge amounts of money, time, and efforts into their education. In the meantime, I would suggest all those who want to gain a higher education to head on over to the Holland College campus until UPEI can stop their programs in "widget making" and find programs that would be useful and helpful for those who want a higher education without all this abusive, albeit, very defensive responses from these professors who have posted and are representative of what your children are facing when they may say something that would dare question a professor or say something that would call into account any transparency or accountability for a priviledged closed system that relies on public funding and tuition from students. I have heard only arrogance, blame others, no accountability, and no responsiblity for any ot the problems plaguing this campus.

    • To "another prof"
      March 21, 2013 - 17:43

      To "another prof": Your defences are weak, at best, in defending the well known and practiced abuses in the very toxic organizational climate at UPEI. There are systemic abuses at all levels.People are rewarded with higher positions, from prof to dean, for example, for their participating in silencing victims, abusing victims and pushing out anyone who asks for ethical standards or those who dare ask those with power to follow policies. Such cultures are toxic because they have ethical values, policies, that are written, even stated/repeated but as we, the public, the students, profs and even administrators are well aware, they are simply not employed, not followed. There is NOT one policy that is followed at UPEI leading to further non-transparency, silencing tactics to conceal wrongdoing and abuses, while organizational and systemic bullying and abuses are permitted to continue to live on. This abusive culture at UPEI thrive when good people remain silent, are silenced, or pushed out. This is re-inforced, at UPEI, by departmental heads, tenured profs, and within the higher administration. When the hideous tactics to keep people silenced, whether it be profs or students, who do want and ask for accountability and transparency, they will be further exposed to direct threats, harassment, using the formal power of the institution to silence and control those profs and students to further silence or push them out. If all else fails, the university will 'zick' their lawyer on any strong minded ethical prof or student who refuses to be unethical, silenced regarding abuses and wrongdoing and/or who has the courage to demand that policies be followed, that there be transparency, ethical guidelines be followed, and except ethical behavior from those who are in power. There is so much wrongdoing, harm to others at this so called place of learning where there is very little teaching and learning due to the toxic culture that encompasses the entire UPEI institution.There have been years of systematic degradation that has led to assaults and a deprivation of humanity instilled throughout this campus. This has destroyed the university as it has remained unchecked, and anyone who dare mention a problem was and still are quickly silenced or pushed out. It maybe surprising to some on campus, not surprising to the public, that the secrets of this abusive system have leaked out slowly over the years. In such a dysfunctonal organization, one will find the many causes for their students receiving a poor education, useless courses and programs that are being promoted, minimal teaching, poor teaching practices, a disconnect with helping students, along with so many other problems regarding a lack of learning at UPEI. About 2 years ago, UPEI was described, by someone who had witnessed unethical behavior, silencing victims, horrendous abuses, unimaginable abuses of power, while working there as being a place comparable to a sewage system, where all the sewer is dumped on this campus. The ones who continue to silence, threaten those into silence, have not helped or contributed to fixing the wrongs of this very bad institution. It has become worse as under these circumstances, there will never and can never be transparency or accountability, never will be any solutions to all the problems that now plague this very sick and toxic, dysfunctional educational system.

  • To Proud Prof from a lowly fee paying parent
    March 19, 2013 - 14:39

    I certainly hope that you are not a proud professor at UPEI. If so, your statement certainly supports a great case for reevaluating the university! First, I hope you're not a tenured professor. After all, isn't it the point of tenure to exercise your responsibility to forgo anonymity? I mean, what's the point? Secondly, I don't know where your claim about "over 18 million dollars for research" comes from, certainly not from the current information on the UPEI research web-site. Then again, the published data could be old outdated; that would be symbolic. And why didn't you average your claim over a few years? Why do you feel a need to inflate the facts?Wouldn't that show a penchant for "misrepresentation"? All that aside, your comments do reflect what many students feel about their university experience; student needs are secondary to the needs of the professors. Indeed, your comments seem to imply that your teaching is just a silly impediment to research. Which raises the real question: Why should a very small liberal arts university give priority to research over comprehensive and effective instruction? And I do wonder why you would say that, "The vast majority of profs are hard working and dedicated to their job" without any citation or reference to any study, data, or on-going and transparent accountability system? MacLeans? You've got to be kidding! Would you accept that from an undergraduate student? Yeah, I'm a bit bitter. After all, over forty thousand dollars in debt for two kids that got a Liberal Arts education that are trying to find half decent minimum wage jobs. And you want us to support your needs? Naw, I just don't believe you're a professor, it can't be that bad!

    • Proud Prof
      March 19, 2013 - 22:46

      $18 million in the 2011/12 academic year: http://www.researchinfosource.com/media/2012Top50List.pdf I stated quite clearly that the great thing about UPEI is that teaching is still highly valued - at least as much as research. If your children had gone to one of the large universities, there's a good chance that they wouldn't have actually seen a prof in a majority of their classes - big schools often dump the job of teaching undergrad courses on grad students (who have little to no experience teaching) while the profs only teach grad-level courses. The comment I was responding to alleged that profs did nothing during the summer - I was pointing out that no, they do research during the summer. Perhaps that led me to talk too much about research for your tastes - but profs doing research was the point of the post. It's very unfortunate that your children are unable to find employment with their education. Tell me, did they do any research about job opportunities with their degree (i.e. the particular degree topic) before they enrolled? There are many different areas that one can study at university - some virtually ensue employment (e.g. engineering, math, computer science), some have very low post-graduation employment rates. Is it your contention that their employment problems are because of the quality of education that they received at UPEI - or is it the area they chose to study?

  • UPEI Business Graduate Working in Alberta
    March 19, 2013 - 12:57

    UPEI Budger Woes ..........let's have a closer look beginning with a public audit !!! A few years ago, a finance professor was being paid full salary and benefits while in Cancun, Mexico during January and February. The cover story was that the professor was "teaching via email" and "bulletin board" to his students. Many at the time saw it simply as a paid winter vacation courtesy of the taxpayers of PEI. The question remains, who is managing the people, resources and budget at UPEI. Why this paid vacation was permitted is one example of the lack of accountability on the campus. Giving the taxpayers of PEI more "spin" won't help their problems at UPEI nor will more money. There is a culture of entitlement on campus as strong as anywhere on PEI. Let's start chipping away at that beginning with transparency with how and for whom the money is spent today. I expect the legal bills are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting age discrimination policies on campus and now the ongoing investigation and legal costs involving the UPEI - TRC. These are only two examples of where some accountability would save taxpayers on PEI substantial tax dollars on teh UPEI campus.

    • Agree with UPEI Business Grad working in AB
      March 19, 2013 - 23:01

      You certainly know the scoop on UPEI. Now, they are vacationing aka doing research aka speaking about research and the usual PR reasons for not teaching. It is a culture of entitlement that is very non-transparent, where there is an abuse of power and no accountability that has plagued this university for years.. When anyone makes a complaint even to the Human Rights Commission, there is an immediate degrading of the person to the point of defamation, bullying, threats as there will never be any transparency at this place; not with a thug lawyer covering up everything at any cost, even if it means to victimize the victim again, just sick actually. There has been more discrimination, sexual harassment complaints, as well, that continue due to their inability to stop violating peoples' rights. It has gotten pretty bad though, as there is an investigation now about a victim of sexual harassment who was brought into mediation by UPEI where they brought her in not in good faith,harassed her more, breached all the mediation contract, then breached the HRC mediation contract after it was signed so they could continue to harass, bully, silence, defame her. It turns out that UPEI seems to have been hiding a "silent/hidden" client which is not legal, I would think, where this hidden client went after the victim viciously after they signed the mediation contract. It can't get any lower than this. But, will be another scandal, another human rights complaint, more threats to the victim to remain silent, but,... maybe.... just maybe, this may be the breaking straw that causes the much needed downfall of the sleazy tricks played by their lawyer. I am sure they will try to continue to hide this ongoing investigation. Then, lets not forget the fraud charges against a prof; and another prof being fired for reporting it which I understand he is suing the university for that. The taxpayers need to know what is really going on at this place, the so-called place of learning, it would send shivers up their backs. But, that is why there will never be any transparency and/or accountability.

  • Dysfunctional institution
    March 19, 2013 - 12:34

    With the previous president still influencing the university with bad decisions and directions through his old hanger-ons who are loyal to this old president; the univerisity and this president are set up to fail. The first decision that should have been made by this new president was to get rid of old loyalities if he wanted a change in a better direction. It is dysfunctional institution on many levels.

  • Reviewer
    March 19, 2013 - 12:22

    Excellent comments! Needn't say anything myself, except you know Alleoop, they may also be in a rush to hang around after retirement age, then stress the need for them to do so, again incorporating the "We tell, you listen" model the previous commenter so aptly put it.

  • johnthames
    March 19, 2013 - 12:15

    A very poor management move was to limit class sizes to 20 students and above for all sessional instuctors. This essentially means there will be no (or very few) high level or special studies courses, and students will be offered only what everyone else is taking. This was a poor decision that will impact students and their propects, and put out of work the marginal part-time professor. A double whammy for the economy and learning while the fat cats continue to get fatter. Disgraceful.

  • Look at the Financial Statement
    March 19, 2013 - 10:35

    Why didn't this reporter look at UPEI's 2011 Financial Statement, which is publicly available, and ask some pointed questions? UPEI had capital expenditures in the last 3 years of $38 million. Presumably, this was to fund campus expansion and new buildings. UPEI paid $23.6 million from their operating budget - 50% of which comes from taxpayers of PEI. UPEI assumed $14.4 million in new debt, presumably mortgages on the buildings. UPEI is all but saying that if the Province cuts funding they won't be able to pay the mortgage. The pointed question is this: why did UPEI build $38 million in new buildings in 3 years if they were not able to recruit enough new students to put in those buildings to pay for them? The numbers are in the 2011 Financial Statement. Unfortunately, the business plan isn't public. Why not?

    • Island construction university - icu
      March 22, 2013 - 20:51

      Your observations prime the pump. Another question is not so much why did UPEI spend so much on buildings, but who got the money? Is there any possibility that the same group of puppeteers who benefited from plan b benefited from the millions spent on buildings? Opps, I better get back to my own "class" before I'm suspended . . .

  • peiguy
    March 19, 2013 - 07:36

    I don't have to be a PhD to do the math on that one. You telling us that UPEI gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 million in funding per year? If they cannot make that work perhaps the University model is broken. If the taxpayer is on the hook to that degree why is there not a government auditor reviewing their financial mattters. Perhaps they need to stop travel to war zones or buying property that is not connected to the campus area ( not developed either). Time for Private universities to be permitted. A bit of competition might make them work more efficiently. Something the students deserve.

  • This story is very telling . . .
    March 19, 2013 - 06:32

    Emerging from this story is the feature that may reveal the deeper problem. Simply put, it's telling. That is, telling, rather than asking. Telling, rather then teaching. And telling people, who do not hold authority within the university, both the problems and the solutions of any given situation. And believe me, the clients of the university do not hold authority. This "us them" mentality where "we know, you don't" or "we tell, you listen" is proving to be the kiss of death for all "higher" places of learning. You see, it's the "higher" that's turned out to be the problem. In the absence of a truly collaborative way of problem identification and mutual problem solving, the university will continue to generate an absence of new solutions and a paralysis of methods that may ultimately lead to its collapse. Start to reach out to the people you're trying to serve and teach; you may be surprised to find out what's there. People know what they need, and if the university can't meet those needs, we will turn to venues that can.

    • The story, or lack thereof, is very telling . . .
      March 19, 2013 - 13:09

      What's the difference between UPEI and a shelf of encyclopedias? Not much. Or at least, there's not enough difference to matter. For one thing, the side effects of tenure are coming home to roost. While knowledge of subject matter is necessary, it is far from sufficient. The vast majority of professors have little to no knowledge of current pedagogy/andragogy. Nor is there any requirement to gain that knowledge. For the most part, I agree with the comment above that claims too many professors teach as they were taught and simply think that teaching is telling. For example, how many professors collect hard data on what their students know prior to instruction? On the rare occasions that the data is collected and interpreted, how is it tracked and shared with other professors? If you don't know, in detail, what a student already knows, how in the world do you know what to teach them? This is why sophisticated on-line learning, with its diagnostic features, is becoming more attractive and effective. There comes a time when you stop dumping money into an old car just to keep it running. Could it be that the lack of serious visible debate about these issues may be evidence that it's time to stop dumping money into an outdated institution that's falling apart at the level of its very methodology?

  • alleyoops
    March 19, 2013 - 06:27

    Cut the number of Profs and make the remaining work year round. Where else can you work 8 months of the year and get paid 120k (or more)? Some don;t even stick around for graduation in May they are in such a rush to get away on the 4 month vacation (and don;t try to tell me it is to refresh their course content, etc). Guess that is not going to happen... tuition hike here we come.

    • Proud Prof
      March 19, 2013 - 12:06

      No, most profs don't spend the majority of their summers refreshing course content - they spend it doing research. Research is a major component of any profs' job. At many large universities, research is considered far more important than teaching (many profs will teach only 1 or 2 courses per year). Students at UPEi are lucky in that teaching is considered to be very important here - but no less so than research. UPEI has consistently ranked (in MacLeans) as one of the most improved research schools in Canada and in 2011 researchers (i.e. profs) brought in over $18 million dollars in research money. Most of this money goes into salaries (although also equipment, travel to conferences, etc.), which means most of the money stays in the province. Is there the occasional prof who takes advantage of their position to slack off in the summer? Of course there is - just like there are people in government and private industry who spend the majority of their day chatting with co-workers and surfing the net. But the vast majority of profs (like the vast majority of employees in any organization) are hard working and dedicated to their job - both teaching and research. As for your amazement at the salary of a prof. My students will study at university for 4 years and then enter the workforce at age 21 or 22 starting at an average of $45,000/year. The average prof will study at university for 11 years (4 years bachelors, 2 years masters, 5 years PhD), work in low paid post-doc positions for up to 5 years and then start their career as a prof in their early 30s making around $66,000/year. It will take decades for a prof to make up for the income they lost delaying their entry into the workforce - and if they're having to pay off student loans on all of their studies, they'll never come close to making it up. Profs don't do it for the money, they do it for the love of the work and the chance to share their knowledge with their students. Not exactly the profile of the slacker you seem to have in your mind.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      March 19, 2013 - 17:08

      University professors are close to the top of my list of groups that I dislike. Tenure must be thrown out as an outdated elitist concept. Yes, there are a few good people out there, people of fine moral character and ethically principled. They are just not hired at the university level. At university it is all about politics, the same old crap. Why aren't educators telling children not to attend university if they want to ever get employed? It used to be that the cream of the crop went to university, to "HIGHER LEVEL STUDY" ha, ha, ha, so that then the cream could be at the least "identified" and at the most "recruited" into the upper eschelons of the corporate empire. Canadians are not only highly unemployed but we are grossly under emplyed as well.

    • To Bill Kay's Comment
      March 19, 2013 - 18:35

      Bill, Usually I gag up with your predicable pseudo-Marxist rants, but this one is palatable. A very smart lady, who still happens to work at UPEI, once said that if they removed sorting and ranking from the university experience, the university would be unrecognizable to itself. To the degree sorting and ranking people serves interests other than the distortion or commodification of knowledge, I'm not sure. But it does seem to locate the university experience in the past . . . Maybe where it belongs? It's a wild and wiki world out there, but it seems any of the "professors" are still living in the 20th century.

    • Agree with Alleyoops
      March 19, 2013 - 22:44

      Cut the number of professors would be a good initial start. Then on to the overabundance of administrators tripping over each other, and of course, the top level of assist to this dean, and assistant to that vp, and vp for that vp...enough. If they concentrated on what should be their focus: STUDENTS, TEACHING...then no need for their selfish, arrogant needs to be on this committee that committee. It is ridiculous. Actually, a head person for a safe campus didn't even know that students were being harassed and abused until big human rights case- so out of the loop.