Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eastern Bums and Creeps Raise Crime Rates: Klein Was Right

I have been at the University of Calgary for over 20 years. As provincial funding shrinks, and as central admin "redirects" funding to choice programs on campus, I have watched the gap between spending and income in my own Faculty yawn wider each year. I have written about the budget woes in my own Faculty, and the need for positive changes in Faculty coffers. Lest you think the spending problem is in our faculty -- let me correct your view: our current shortfalls are brought about by the budget two-step across campus. Even though there have been signs of administrative corruption, evidence of a recent crime committed at the University of Calgary by our own president leaves me stunned. While I am being expected to buy my own paper and toner, take on more teaching and graduate students, to seek out new research funding, I learn that our CEO rigged a multi-million dollar golden handshake to line his personal coffers. I am dismayed, outraged and disgusted by the current revelation that our outgoing CEO, formerly of McMaster University in Ontario, who is quitting early, is taking a cool 4.5 million in pension when he abandons this sinking ship. Yep, I am calling him a rat.

I have lived in Alberta my entire life; I am aware of some of the stereotypes associated with my dear province (i.e., rednecks). It is true that our former Premier, Ralph Klein, was known for his colorful language. In fact, many in the East liked to hold their noses and poke fun at our colorful Premier. However, in the case of this Easterner, I am inclined to believe Klein was right when, as mayor in 1982, he told the bums and creeps to stay home. Klein, or someone like him, should have told the imported Robber from McMaster to stay home. Instead, in the last 8 years, the University of Calgary, and the province of Alberta, has been HAD by this creep and bum from the east -- and we do not like it.

In an internal document this week, TUCFA's President weighs in by calling for an immediate forensic audit of the finances of the University of Calgary. One juicy quote: "the widespread belief is that there are all sorts of undisclosed expenditures hidden within the budget – slush funds to support the pet projects of the powerful few within the University administration – while the core programs are left to wither through continuous erosion of funding". In my faculty alone, we have lost over 10 professors and instructors, and several support staff -- and we have been told there will be NO HIRING for the next five years. Thanks, Rat - you have done a great deal to cement the view that many in the East regard Alberta as a ripe plum to be plucked.

More on Eastern Harvey's 4.5 million heist here: Cooper, Pension plan all the buzz on campus . I agree, Barry - the optics stink.


- brad said...

So, is there nothing to be done? Perhaps that's the most difficult thing about these issues ... is it really the fault of the outgoing president or is it our fault for being so gullible?

My question, I think, is really in two parts:

1) when do we say enough is enough and
2) once we've said that, what next? quit? become part of the management?


GirlProf said...

Good questions, Brad. Is there anything that can be done? The 4.5 million dollar heist is likely a done deal -- Harvey will make off with his bags of money. However, I tend to agree with the TUCFA President that Faculty and Staff deserve greater transparency in how the money is spent on campus, and more scrutiny and involvement in campus decision making. Who is at fault? I do believe that the President IS at fault, at the very least for being greedy and grasping -- this is a public institution, not a corporation -- his salary and his pension should reflect the public nature of the institution, not the private sector. The Board of Governors is at fault -- this generous president's salary and rich pension stinks of corruption and has left a sour taste and deep sense of mistrust amongst faculty and staff. Are "we" the University of Calgary staff and faculty at fault? NO! This was clearly a backroom deal; information about Harvey's golden handshake only came to light recently through the auditor general of Alberta's report. When is enough, enough? As the shrinking resources and rising debt continue to put the squeeze on campus, I believe that more rats will jump ship as more corruption is revealed. The Answer is increased transparency, accountability and collegial governance. Put Faculty Members Back in Charge of the University; Restore Public and Campus Trust in Administration.

Hank said...

I can't say it's "our fault" when the situation was cooked in secret.

However, the Board and others who were party to the secret negotiations are directly to blame if they were party to the secret agreement(s).

If the Board and others who are supposed to be our oversight did not see the problems, then they are incompetent.

In either case, the Board needs to resign.

The credentials for a new Board need to have integrity at the top of the list.

Unintended Consequences is a ploy too often used these days. These agreements were cooked over several years. One can be gullible occasionally, but it appears to have been the norm here.

Resign, or be fired -- it's happening elsewhere on campus a lot these days, and the Board should be no exception.

- brad said...

I guess I really had a larger 'our fault' in mind than just this instance of backroom deals. When we see a pattern of behaviour going on over a long enough time period to actually see the pattern emerging, and this is just the latest in an observable pattern, then we are certainly to blame if we do nothing about it.

Asking or demanding that people resign assumes those people are the real problem. I think they are just a symptom of a larger problem, that being a state-sanctioned move to a business model of education.