BOG approves $470 million budget at latest meeting

A $470 million budget for the 2017-18 year was approved at Carleton’s Board of Governors (BoG) meeting on April 24.

The university’s new budget will see a three to eight per cent increase in tuition fees for domestic and international students. According to the meeting agenda, this revenue will fund about 58 per cent of the budget, at $274 million.

The new Health Sciences Building—set to be completed in August—is among the most expensive projects in the budget, costing $52 million.

With a budget of $29.5 million, the BoG estimates the university’s new Advanced Research and Innovation in Smart Environments (ARISE) building will come in second. Also set out in the budget is $20.5 million towards retrofitting the new building with environmental and energy-efficient equipment.

Citing difficulty competing with other universities, the BoG voted to add $9.8 million in research and grants funding, bringing the total to nearly $65 million for 2017-18.

Michel Piché, Carleton’s vice-president (finance and administration), said the extra money would help improve student services and Carleton’s ranking as a research university.

But according to Rafik Goubran, the university’s vice-president (research and international), it would take upwards of $100 million to even come close to being competitive with other universities’ research and grants funding.

According to the BoG, 2016-17 marked the second year in a row that Excellence Canada, an independent non-profit corporation that recognizes organizational excellence across Canada, awarded Carleton silver in the Excellence, Innovation and Wellness category.

“We are going for gold this year,” Piché said.

But, Carleton President Roseann Runte said Carleton can still make improvements.

“We haven’t yet cracked the sound barrier where it’s like, ‘Carleton is great,’ ” Runte said, regarding Carleton’s ability to compete financially with other universities in research and grants.

Carleton had reserved $9.8 million for a multi-faculty aerospace program under the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, but the project was not selected to continue. The BoG discussed whether the money should go to research and grants or another cause.

Goubran proposed adding the reserve funds to large external grants and contracts specific to Carleton’s top researchers. He said the second aspect of the proposal would be the benefit of the money being matched by cash contributions from external funding, six million of which has already been secured.

But Jim Durrell, the vice-chair of the BoG, said he isn’t sure if investing the money into research and grants is the right move for Carleton.

“There’s a whole plethora of other things we can spend it on and get money back to the university, and I acknowledge the importance of grants. It just doesn’t smell right,” Durrell said.

The BoG also discussed creating a “Truth and Reconciliation Park” to create more spaces for Indigenous people at Carleton. Other universities, such as McMaster University’s Indigenous Circle, and the University of Manitoba’s Medicine Garden of Indigenous Learning, were brought up as examples.

The proposed location is the Patterson Amphitheatre, located between Paterson Hall and the Loeb Building.

But, Susan Ross, an Indigenous and Canadian Studies professor at Carleton, said the amphitheatre has a lack of physical accessibility, poor visibility from surrounding buildings and many plants and trees growing in the space, some of which are almost 50 years old.

The BoG is considering which principles should be reflected in a permanent name for the park, what the space will look like and contain and how the space can highlight Carleton’s position on unceded Algonquin territory while welcoming both Indigenous people and settlers.

The next BoG meeting is scheduled for June 29.