I attended this meeting remotely from home as I had just had knee surgery and was unable to make the meeting in person. Here is my report to you the faculty.
The meeting started with Celebrating Student Success and recognizing the students from the school of Business Marketing team who competed in the Ontario College Marketing Competition. The Team Algonquin finished in second place provincially – our best finish in the 40-year history of the event!
The following are my summaries for each item presented.
Workday Project Update:
A general update regarding the Workday initiative was covered by Doug Wotherspoon. This was the last update to be presented to the BOG. I was very disappointed as the “phishing” incident was played down and only mentioned once. One would think after causing three weeks of disruption and preventing many employees from properly performing their job the “phishing incident” would have been at the top of the presentation. I found that it was quickly mentioned almost as an irrelevant point. This prompted me to ask for a confirmation that no personal information to faculty and staff had been released during the incident. The president responded with the remediation that occurred such as password changes for all, restoration of affected computers but no specific response to the actual question. I followed up with a question to Doug Wotherspoon regarding if we had in place a multiple-factor authentication process to access account information. His answer appeared to indicate that this was going to be implemented as part of the remediation process. I found it interesting that an event, which allowed the infiltration of principle college system and required the disruption of many of the college operational system such as VPN, e-mail, Workday, was played down at a Board of Governor meeting.
Solar Photovoltaic Project Update:
This project as you know was spearheaded as part of a government green gas reduction initiative and funding to the amount of 6.8 million dollars. The installation of solar panels on the roof of the Ottawa campus are to be used to replace the use green gas producing fuels for such things as air based heating, hot water production and reducing electrical use from the grid. The project has plenty of merit and I feel was a great direction for the college to embark on back in June of 2018. The timeline to submit a proposal and ensure the funding was short. Apparently, this caused the engineering company to fast track their forecasted estimate of total cost of the job. A significant error was in the area of the electrical upgrades required to utilize the air based heating portion of the project. A solution was proposed to use the hot water generated from the panels to supply the hot water requirements on campus. This unfortunately has cause a 1.2 million dollar shortfall on the project that is now on the college’s books. I personally felt that if the engineering company made the error they should at least be partially responsible for the additional cost and therefore voted against the motion for the college to cover the 1.2 million dollar short fall. Unfortunately, aside from one other governor voting against this motion, the motion was moved.
2019-2021 Business Plan & 2019-2020 Annual Budget:
The Business plan for 2019 to 2021 were presented and the 2019-2020 budget were presented by each VP. The sound on the remote system was disconnected at that time and therefore I was unable to hear the presentation or ask questions.
I reviewed the plan and budget and did not find any items of concern. The plan continues to follow the Strategic Plan and focus on Student Satisfaction, Co-op and Employee engagement. The Learner Driven plan and focus is a personal concern. How is this style of course and program management going to fit with the existing programs and courses at Algonquin? As well, is today’s student population able to create their own learning path? The International strategic refresh requires more detail. The most positive piece of the plan is the replacement proposal for the Student Information System or GeneSIS. Considering that over the last decade 20 out of the 24 Ontario Colleges have replaced their system there will be a lot of information regarding the system options on the market. This will not be a cheap fix or easy fix
The Budget for the upcoming year has challenges of its own. The 10% mandated fee decrease and ancillary fee decrease will cause some considerable revenue shortfalls. The program tuition costs for domestic and international students have been adjusted to reflect these issues. Domestic students will see a 10% decrease yet this shortfall will be compensated with an increase to international student. I had a concern on whether this would affect the international student numbers in a negative way. The president reassured me that similar increases were going to take place across the board with the other Ontario Colleges. My belief is that if raising prices brings down the numbers of international students, this will only increase the college shortfall. As you know the international student intake has been the redeeming feature for the college over the last few years. Only time will tell if this comes back to bite us. . It was also mentioned that 51 full time positions were on the budget for next year 31 of them for faculty. It was not clarified if this included the replacement position of the voluntary retirement incentive.
There are two physical space major Strategic Investment projects starting. The pedestrian bridge to the LRT station and the SA new athletic and Recreation Complex. There was no mention of increasing the number of classroom space available.
Third Quarter 2018-2019 Financial Projection
The sound returned to the remote system and I was able to rejoin in the discussions and presentations.
A significant positive was the enrollment increased by 7.0% from the Approved Annual Budget. There were two costly items for the third quarter. The first was a 3 million dollar estimate for the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program and the other was the 3.5 million dollars expense from the College departure from IBM in regards to Workday. I asked the president if the lost position from the Voluntary Retirement Incentive would be replaced by new full time position as part of the succession plan. Her answer was yes they would.
Overall, the BOG meeting was quite productive. I was disappointed as I found the agenda to be extensive for a proposed two-hour meeting. The presentation of the committee reports were passed over and the pace of the meeting seemed very fast. Considering we had many issues to deal with and an in camera segment as well. I personally felt overloaded with information and rushed in my decision-making. Attending the meeting remotely did not help. I will make sure to be there in person from now on. I hope this was a random occurrence.
Enrico De Francesco