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LU running $4.4M deficit to 'maintain critical investments'

University plans to return to balanced budgets by 2018-2020
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Laurentian University will run a deficit of up to $4.4 million in 2018-2019 with a plan to return to balanced budgets by 2019-2020. (File)

Laurentian University will run a deficit of up to $4.4 million in 2018-2019 with a plan to return to balanced budgets by 2019-2020.

The university's board of governors made the decision to allow for short-term deficit spending in order to maintain critical investments in the strategic plan and allow for investments to continue to position Laurentian for future growth, a press release said. 
 
“We have seen a decrease in enrollment because of demographics, and we are developing strategies to buck the trend,” said vice-president, administration, Lorella Hayes, in the press release.

“With the projected decrease of nine percent in the 20 to 24 year-old population by 2023, Laurentian University has had to make some targeted decisions to keep us on a steady course in the years ahead.”

Laurentian’s board of governors approved the university’s 2018-2019 operating budget of $160.7 million. 

Following a rigorous consultation process, the budget represents an increase of $3.2 million over the last year to focus on priority investments linked to Laurentian’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan entitled Together. Ensemble. Maamwii
 
A new, more inclusive and transparent budget process was key to developing budget proposals in line with the university’s strategic priorities while ensuring Laurentian’s long-term sustainability.  
 
Investments will be made to: 

  • Enhance mental health services for students, faculty and staff   
  • Increase support for recruitment and retention strategies
  • Increase resources for accredited programs and services in French 
  • Continue real-life experiential learning opportunities for students 
  • Add additional support for Indigenous programming
  • Support technology for improved student services
  • Provide support for the Centre for Academic Excellence to improve student and faculty success   

 The university will open the new Cliff Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building in time for the fall semester. This year will also see the graduation of our first cohort of master’s students in Architecture and Canada’s only master’s program in Science Communications. 

Laurentian is now No. 1 in research funding among comparable universities, and still boasts the highest post graduation employment rates among Ontario universities while increasing the average entry grade from 80.8 per cent to 82.6 per cent in the last eight years.   

“Laurentian University is building on success and moving forward with a renewed momentum,” said Dr. Pierre Zundel, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, in the press release. 

“With the launch of our new Strategic Plan, we are focused more than ever on seeking out opportunities for collaborations that build on our existing strengths in education and research. 

We are committed to creating beneficial initiatives for the North, providing our students with experiential learning opportunities and making an important contribution to the reconciliation process. This budget shows our commitment to these beliefs.”