Highlights From Concordia’s First Board of Governors Meeting

Talking Deficits, QS Rankings and Infrastructure Money

  • Concordia’s Board of Governor’s first meeting occurred on Friday in the GM-Building downtown. Many different topics ranging from the school’s deficit last year to its new rankings were discussed.  Photo Jonathan Caragay-Cook

Concordia to run a deficit

After years of budget cuts, Concordia’s finances were in the red last year, according to the university’s audited statements, and the predictions for this year’s budget will lead to another deficit.

Concordia’s President Alan Shepard said last year’s deficit was a result of the Volunteer Departure Program, a buyout program for staff that was initiated last year to cope with provincial cuts to higher education.

The buyouts led to a one-time spending for severance packages of the 90 staff who took the VDP.

“That’s the reason we were at a deficit last year and we shrank the salary base,” Shepard said. “We’ll get it back—if you think about it that way—in about 18 months.”

Since December 2012, Concordia has lost $30 million in government subsidies. Last spring, Shepard was one of the signatories of a letter by the heads of Quebec universities and CEGEPs denouncing the last round of cuts for $70 million. Since 2012, higher education has lost $270 million, according to the letter.

“The deficit this year is a different deficit,” he said. “That has to do with our sense that we made as many cuts as we could, and we did our very best, but we didn’t quite get to the zero balance.”

Shepard stressed projected losses could change over the year and the university could end up without a deficit.

There haven’t been any meetings between Concordia and the Minister of Higher Education François Blais in the last few months, but Shepard will meet with the deputy minister soon.

“My gut feeling—there are no rumours, no innuendo—is that we’re coming to the end of those kinds of cuts,” he said. “But maybe I’m wrong.”

Rising (slowly) in QS rankings

Concordia jumped 50 spots from last year’s QS rankings to the 411-420 range of best schools across the world.

The global ranking compare over 800 universities and also rank faculties and departments between institutions. Concordia’s Art and Design programs are listed as being in the top 51 to 100 range, better than any other programs.

According to a report by Concordia, the university’s ranking for the number of citations per faculty increased.

But Concordia still has a while before it catches up to McGill, which ranked at 24.

Provincial infrastructure funding approved

Quebec has agreed to fund all of Concordia’s requests for infrastructure funding under the Plan québécois des infrastructures, which invests billions in funding to public infrastructure annually.

One of the requests is the three-year project to renovate the downtown campus’s Webster Library. Shepard said the government confirmed $22.5 million in PQI funding to Concordia this year.

Gifts for District 3

Quebec’s Department of Higher Education approved two new programs at Concordia: a Master of Design and a PhD in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies, according to Shepard’s President Report.

The university will also announce a major donation for District 3 on Sept. 28. District 3 is a start-up centre based in the Faubourg that works with entrepreneurs to develop business models and coaching from professionals.

This past summer, an engineering student from District 3 launched an application to facilitate OPUS card renewals for a student transit fare card. Concordia is the first university to offer OPUS renewals online.

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