Dan Muzyka, Dean of the faculty of Commerce, is in the market for a sugar momma. The only reason he hasn’t posted on Craigslist yet is because he thinks he’s got a lead. Except this time she’s younger than he is, and considerably poorer – the Commerce Undergraduate Society. The affectionately self-dubbed “Dean Dan” has approached the CUS to contribute $150 000 to next years’ faculty budget. It all started last year, when UBC had the nasty surprise of finding out it was running a 36 million dollar deficit.

The UBC board of governors has begun a long process to cut its budgets through the SCAPP committee (which just completed their first report, found HERE). Sullen deans and department heads everywhere are being asked to prioritize, efficiency-ify, and strip down their program offerings to their most Trek 2010-friendly activities. The government is stingy, and tuition can only be increased by a measly 2% a year. GPOF funding is no bottomless pit. “Hard decisions” are about to be made. But Commerce? Well, why would commerce tighten its belt when there’s the untapped cash cow of student money to be had?

Dean Dan, apparently based on his close relationship with former CUS president Mike Woodward, broached the topic of increased CUS contributions last year. The $150 000 he asked for then is ostensibly to support the operations of the faculty’s Business Career Centre (BCC) – one of those “prestige and profile” building programs that the Suader school takes pride in. The CUS already funds the BCC to the tune of $150 000 per year – about 15% of the $1.1 million annual CUS budget, and likewise 15% of the approximately $1 million BCC operating budget. The additional contribution would bring CUS support up to 30% for this academic service. maybe that’s fair. Maybe students are willing to do that.

However, problems arise as soon and you get your number cruncher out. The BCC itself, according to its projected budget, is only asking for $60 000; the dean has now backtracked and asked for $100 000. This discrepancy is due to an alleged miscommunication between the two. Moreover, while the dean plans to pay $9000 less for the BCC next year, he has aked the CUS for far more than the balance ($91 000 more), giving the BCC a larger budget by far than previous years. This is in part accounted for because the BCC (bizarrely) budgeted for a 15-month period instead of the normal 12. But, even if you remove the three extra months’ worth of costs, the BCC is still being allocated more than ever before as a result of the projected CUS contribution. To be exact, if the CUS contributes $60 000, or $100 000, the inflated amount (above last years’ BCC budget) is $22 500, or $53 500, respectively. For all the details, please refer to the report prepared by CUS executives Jia Lei and Conor Topley on the topic HERE

The BCC has been unable to produce any plans for increased programming in the upcoming year. Since the student money now supporting the CUS goes throught the faculty, one might ponder about all the other faculty areas that, faced with the doleful prospect of GPOF cuts to their units (unless they become Goerge Mackie-accredited sustainable global citizens on the double), are parched for accountability-free student subsidization. On might reflect how well-pleased Dean Dan would be to benevolently water them. The truth is, we might well wonder where the extra money will end up: the dean, where approached with bald numbers, did not feel inclined to make his intentions public. More information may be provided at tomorrow’s CUS council meeting, where the dean is going to present, but he has alluded to the fact that he doesn’t want other faculties getting wind of the whole arrangement.

It may be far to late for that, however. The word on the street is that Dean of Arts Nancy Gallini has already approached the Arts Undergraduate society for some sort of bale-out. I’m not really supposed to know this, you see, so hush. Heaven forbid that we should have transparency at a public institution when there’s 36 million dollars to come up with!

Anyway, Dean Dan has communicated to CUS president Conor Topley that if the CUS does not comply with his request (or shall we call it a demand?) two options are open:

a. Reduced services from the BCC.
b. A reduction in the number of undergraduate classes offered.

Considering that “hard decisions” are being made all over the university due to the current budget climate, these two options must and should be on the table anyway. The CUS and BCC in truth, have not a thing to do with it. The dean’s request basically amounts to opportunism – the CUS has money, he needs it. There has been no honesty about the actual needs of the BCC’s operations. There has been no honesty about where the excess in that budget would go. Increasing the BCC budget on students’ dime at a time like this is preposterous. Using the excess in that budget at the dean’s discretion, with no accountability, is insanity. While some block-headed CUS councilors have amiably suggested an increase in their tuition and student fees to cover the dean’s whims, the rest of us would do well to recall that Sauder students already pay the highest student fees at the university at $266 (this was originally implemented during the 90’s tuition freeze to do things like purchase computers and get the BCC started to begin with – check out a Ubyssey article (pg 4) on the topic). They also just approved an additional $500 per year building levy on their future students to finance the mortgage on a shiny new Angus building. Should they also be saddling a greater and greater portion of institutional spending?

This business – both the process and the intent – create an absurd precedent for the rest of the university. How ironic that the commerce faculty can’t balance it’s books without extorting students.


14 Comments so far

  1. Anonymous on July 14, 2007 6:19 am

    What the hack! The commerce students ended up being the worst kind of people to buy into a complete scam! How could that be? And now you guys are dragging all of us undergraduate students? That’s outrageous! How could you undergraduate society execs live up to your election promise to reduce tuition fees while allowing the admins to impose a tuition increase under a different name?

  2. Peter on July 14, 2007 4:12 pm

    An Update:

    As of CUS council yesterday, Dean Dan did not make a request for any additional funding from the CUS (that would be the $150,000/$100,000/$60,000 that had been expected). This was done in light of some recent internal funding developments on which he would not elaborate.

    He did come and present a history of the budget as well as of the financing of Sauder which was a very valuable lesson to everyone on council.

    The BCC then gave an overview as to their plans for the year and their results for the past year. They requested funding from the CUS along the lines of what has been done in previous years. This proposal will be discussed at the next CUS meeting on July 28th.

    Jeff Friedrich was also in attendance, and brought some very useful university-level opinion and pointed questions to the discussion.

    We’ll see where we go from here…

    On a side note, I’ve heard rumblings with the CUS Council of the idea that we should increase the student fee (currently at $266) to cover part of the deficit (and other cost increases) of the school. I was wondering what you guys thought of the notion?

  3. Fire Hydrant on July 15, 2007 6:17 am

    If it’s tuition, call it tuition. Taking up the slack with a non-tuition fee is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, it’s easier to tell the province what percentage of our education they’re covering if we aren’t playing games shuffling money around.

    Second, I also have some reservations around bailing out a faculty — Sauder of all schools should be able to find efficiencies and be creative with their budget, and bailing them out replaces that with an easy fix. Few other faculty would have this solution available to them, and it tells the province they don’t really need to fund us, because we’ll figure out a way to fund ourselves.

    If you’re going to do it, make it a new fee, include the word “tuition” in it, include it in UBC’s calculations of what fraction of an education is paid by students, and ensure that the terms under which the money is transferred to Sauder give the students a degree of oversight. I wouldn’t vote for it, but Sauder might.

  4. Maayan Kreitzman on July 16, 2007 5:59 pm

    By the way, the link to the report in the post is intentionally broken. The CUS ptresident asked that it be taken down, saying htat it’s an internal report only.

    I can’t really think of why, since the report is truthful, very well-written, and reveals nothing that members of the public aren’t entitled to know, so there’s likely pressure being applied somewhere. if not, it’s a bit disturbing that Conor is continuing with the lack of transpareny that the report deplores.

  5. Anonymous on July 16, 2007 6:58 pm

    Talk about being caught with your hands in the cookie jar.

    I really hope Stephen Toope reads this blog. Let me email it to him.

  6. Gina Eom on July 17, 2007 6:10 pm

    If the Faculty of Commerce was a private corporation, and the students were partners or customers, what would you call this shady practice in legal (criminal?) terms?

    Just wondering.

  7. Anonymous on July 24, 2007 12:59 am

    Why doesn’t Dean Dan ask Sauder for more money?! The whole reason the Faculty of Commerce was renamed “the Sauder School of Business” was because they donated X dollars?!

    It looks like ethics takes a back seat when compared to the ruthless mighty dollar (get it anyway you can)… the irony.

  8. Jesse Ferreras on July 24, 2007 12:24 pm


    It’s not exactly common practice to reach out for more money from your benefactor when they’ve forked out enough to name a school after you. Nor does it make any sense. That’s like devouring the hand that feeds you.

    But point taken that ethics is overruled in favour of profit.

    Note: X = $20 million

    – Jesse Ferreras

  9. tristan on July 31, 2007 6:37 am

    great post maayan!

    and now for the thing that most of you will probably disagree with:
    the budget deficit is a complete ploy. it is a common financial strategy to manufacture deficits. now that is a big story underlying all these other stories.

    go back the Ubyssey article this spring “explaining” the budget deficit in terms of “inflationary pressures”. that is not sufficient for me. is it for you all?

  10. Patrick on July 31, 2007 6:06 pm

    Is there ANY evidence for such a claim? Any at all?

  11. maayan kreitzman on August 1, 2007 9:42 pm

    I’d also be interested in hearing any substantiantion for that claim Tristan. I was fairly satisfied with George mackie’s explanation of the debt at the SCAPP meeting I attended.

    Why would it even be in the university’s interest to fabricate such a dire situation?

  12. Anonymous on August 2, 2007 4:20 pm
  13. Conor on August 22, 2007 4:52 pm

    Hey all,

    I justed wanted to respond to Mayaan’s comment about about the fact that “it’s a bit disturbing that Conor is continuing with the lack of transpareny that the report deplores.”

    I requested that it be taken down for 2 reasons:

    At the time, the issue was a very sensitive matter within the CUS and I felt that if this document was publicly distributed in the format that it was in (not intended for public use)it would have only hindered an otherwise diplomatic process with the Dean’s Office.

    Secondly, and most importantly, I was never asked if the document could be posted anywhere or referenced. It was given out to our council solely as a means to highlight the situation, not to be distributed to media outlets. If anyone had requested more information of either of the two autors of the document, I assure you, we would have been more than happy to share the information.

    I hope this clears things up a bit. On a side note – I’m glad to see the posts and concerns that people have raised with regards to this issue. As Peter has said, the Dean did not make a request for the funds. In fact, Peter is currently working on a statement from our council to solidify the position of the CUS so that we’re ready if this sort of reques is made in the future.

    – Conor Topley

  14. maayan kreitzman on August 28, 2007 9:32 pm

    If you would have shared the information anyway, I don’t see what the problem was. *shrug*

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