New mechanism to prioritize resources


To ensure that Wilfrid Laurier University effectively allocates its resources in the coming years, the university has implemented the Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) system to create a discussion with various departments to determine what Laurier’s priorities are, which is an initiative that is a relatively new process for a Canadian university.

With less funding coming from the Ontario government – a situation that appears to be worsening – Laurier has to create a new budgetary model; this is where IPRM comes in to play.

“We’re ways away from anything in IPRM actually affecting the budgetary process. IPRM is actually a whole scale review of what it is that we’re doing, what our priorities are, what are the areas that we would look for Laurier to continue to develop and excel as we move forward as an institution,” explained Deb MacLatchy, the vice president: academics at Laurier.

“That both would be on the academic side as well as the administrative side,” she added.

According to Orna Duggan, director of institutional research and planning at Laurier, IPRM is more of a mechanism that the university will use to determine what to do in the coming years.

“Every program at the university will be subject to an evaluation, pretty much will give us what it does well, how relevant it is, how many resources it uses,” she said. “We need to go to an exercise that says, ‘is this the most appropriate way to do this anymore?’”

Four committees will be set up in the fall to begin reviewing Laurier’s situation, and then come up with various budgetary recommendations for the university to adopt. At this point, Duggan said there are multiple options.

“One of the other resource allocation options is called responsibility centre management,” she explained. “That’s essentially where each area has responsibility and ownership on the resources that they take in. And it means that you need to contribute to the central upkeep of the university.”

Both MacLatchy and Duggan asserted that this new process has been put in place because of changing economic times as well as out-of-date budgetary processes.

“Universities add programs all the time, we add on, add on and add on,” Duggan explained.

“But we rarely stand back and say, ‘what are the things that perhaps are no longer current, no longer up to day, no longer fit student wants or needs?’”

She added, “No university, even Harvard, can be all things to all men.”

Duggan noted that this doesn’t necessarily mean cuts will be coming, but will affect the number of resources a department – whether that will be academic or administrative– will have.  Training workshops have been occurring since April, and Duggan expects this initiative to have faculty, staff and students involved.

Recommendations from IPRM are to be discussed in early 2013.

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