During the town hall meeting held on February 26, UTM Principal Ulrich Krull provided an update on the Davis building’s construction, and commented on other projects and initiatives the university is carrying out.
The Meeting Place is near completion after its completion date of after reading week was pushed back.
“it’s behind schedule, but they’re working very hard to get it done,” said Krull. “It looks very impressive. [The Davis Building] will reach its full glory once they start working on expanding the student space outside. You will really begin to notice the difference once they start constructing outside of the Davis building.”
According to Krull, the road ways around the building will be shut down and the bus routes will need to change.
In regard to the prospective Arts, Culture, and Technology (ACT) building, Krull stressed that it is a proposal under review that must still go to the central administration for approval. There are no official plans to start constructing the building yet.
“I mention this because a lot of these types of projects can be derailed by the provincial government announcement, which, in a sense, is a cut to us in terms of the funding. But we’re not walking away from anything in the academic plan. This includes such things as the construction projects […] We have to have a trade off somewhere along the line in terms of what we’re going to do with those cuts.”
Currently, a planning group is looking into the logistics of the building. The group has gone to the community and collected all the “wishes” people would want for the ACT building. The building has a nominal budget associated with it of near $100-million dollars.
“If we were to delay the opening of the ACT building, then we would actually have a fair amount of saving to control for against the deficit. All we have to do is delay some of that growth and some of the building construction. But it only deals with the short-term reality.”
On the budget, Krull stated that the university is still in the process of hiring new faculty and staff positions, but are reassessing the feasibility of such hires.
“From a standpoint of controlling costs we’re taking a look at what we can do to slow the growth of positions on the academic side. Are there positions that don’t need to be filled immediately?”
“For example,” Krull continued, “we can slow the rate of hiring of faculty and staff. We can spread out the hiring, so instead of hiring six positions at once, we can hire four the first year and then two the next.”
In response to The Varsity’s article on the university’s supposed-plan to over enroll students as a way to buffer the 10 per cent tuition cut, Krull stated, “We have no interest in using international students to cover the amount of money that’s being taken out of the system. There has been a lot of discussion in U of T for a number of years on being an internationally significant university. And part of that is about having an internationally significant population. The reality is that UTM is in strong demand in the international sense.”
Krull also announced that the Master of Urban Innovation (MUI) program has been delayed by a year because it did not receive confirmation by the government. Therefore, many of the students that would be eligible for OSAP are not.
However, they will continue to hire staff for the program, and will accept their first cohort of students in the September of 2020.
The final town hall of the year will be held on March 26 at 5:00 p.m. in the Students’ Centre Presentation Room.