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Upcoming Academic Terms: Info and Plans

Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Sep 11
Tags: community, all updates

Dear members of the University community,

Plans for Winter 2021 term

Yesterday, I announced that the Winter 2021 term at the University of Regina will proceed in much the same way as the current Fall 2020 term. The majority of teaching and learning will take place remotely, with a limited number of low-density courses and course components such as labs, studios, and clinical placements offered in person according to strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

This approach to the Winter term is consistent across Saskatchewan’s postsecondary sector, and follows consultation with the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and the Ministry. In the current circumstances, we believe this cautious approach remains necessary to protect the health and safety of the postsecondary and wider communities while providing a fulfilling academic experience for our students.

Note that this approach may change depending on the rate of COVID-19 infections in the province during the next few months. Should circumstances dictate any significant adjustments, I will provide as much notice as possible so that together we can plan appropriately.

Budget update

With COVID-19-related budget cuts and layoffs taking place at numerous Canadian universities, U of R faculty and staff are asking about our financial position: “How we are doing fiscally?” And some, worried about what they see in the news, are asking specifically about layoffs.

Let me first address the latter. There are no plans for layoffs at the University of Regina. As the pandemic arrived here six months ago, we undertook to avoid layoffs, and planned accordingly. We believe this decision remains fully consonant with the theme of "care, calm, and compassion" guiding our decision-making.

As we move into the Fall, it continues to be appropriate. We have a particular responsibility to those among us who are economically vulnerable. We also wish to keep our complement intact and engaged so we have full institutional capacity when the pandemic abates.

Strong enrolments in 2019-20 yielded revenues that made a 0% tuition increase possible in 2020-21. This year, we’ve seen strong Spring/Summer enrolments; steady Fall enrolments in most areas are also encouraging. I want to thank every member of the faculty and staff for contributing to these achievements. They represent the professional commitment and hard work of hundreds. Without those efforts, we would be in an even more challenging place.

But there are significant financial challenges. I want to be frank with the University community about the current fiscal situation, which has been affected by the changes we have seen in the wake of COVID-19.

The effects of the pandemic are now sharply challenging revenues on which the University depends. Parking and residence net revenues are each down by $4 million ($8 million total). Student fees now being waived (for example, the recreation and athletics fee) mean a further shortfall of $3 million. English as a Second Language and Conservatory of Performing Arts revenues are down by $2.5 million.

At the moment, we anticipate a 2020-2021 budget shortfall of $13.5 million. Members of the Senior Leadership Team (Deans, AVPs, Directors) are now discussing means of addressing it. We have sought, and will continue to seek, the advice of the Council Committee on Budget as well as the University Recovery Planning Group. And on Monday and Tuesday next week, as part of their September meetings, the Board will discuss those means as well.

The course of the pandemic here in the coming months is unknown. I am guardedly optimistic that the current budget shortfall - and the measures we take to address it – will be one-time occurrences, but there are no guarantees. Please be assured, however, that as we work together through this challenge, we will do our utmost to safeguard jobs.

Virtual Treaty 4 Gathering – 14-20 September

For the past several years, the University of Regina has participated in the annual Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle – a week-long series of events designed to foster healthy and respectful relationships within the Treaty 4 territory in which our University is fortunate to be situated.

All in-person events for this year’s gathering have been cancelled, but in their place the organizers have planned a series of pre-recorded and live virtual events for K-12 students, teachers, and the general public. Given our collective commitment to reconciliation in our new Strategic Plan, kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak, I am pleased that members of the University community will be participating in a number of these sessions.

Here are a few examples. Dr Mark Brigham and Dr Mel Hart of the Department of Biology will host a series of “Bat Chats” for students. Michael Shires of the Dr John Archer Library and Alex King, curator/preparator of the President’s Art Collection, will discuss Indigenous Studies online library resources and Indigenous art at the University. The Reconciliation Action Committee will share treaty reflections from the University of Regina community.

I encourage you to visit the virtual activities schedule, share it with others, and participate in this important gathering.



Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor