The University of Manitoba currently has a total of 66 academic vacancies in various faculties, primarily for assistant professors.
Brad McKenzie, University of Manitoba Faculty Association president, said, “Not all positions can be filled at one time, so the university is saving up money. So at the moment there is a freeze on filling new positions, and positions cannot be filled without looking at the money and salary that would have to be paid.
“We’re only looking at people who will apply for a term appointment.”
McKenzie said there is lots of protection for full-time professors, which creates vacancies that are on a short-term basis, making the need for assistant professors most prevalent.
“We create vacancies [ . . . ] on a term appointment or a seasonal appointment, which are people who only have a contract with the U of M for two years, or on a part time basis.”
Due to the creation of a program called Position Vacancy Management, focusing on both academic and administrative sides, Jan Spak from U of M Human Resources does not foresee a hiring freeze happening in the near future.
“As positions become vacant [ . . . ] we are attempting to hold them open based on recommendations for future. [ . . . ] If, down the road, we need to reduce positions, then we have got positions to move people into,” Spak said.
“We have seen what has happened at other universities and we are taking a proactive approach to save positions for our existing employees.”
Spak indicated there are only a few circumstances under which they would fill positions permanently. For example, if a position is related to direct revenue generation, if is a hard-to-fill position, if there is a shortage of individuals with the required skills or if the position is of broad strategic importance to the university as a whole.
So far no information has been provided as to what funding levels are going to be available to the university.
The university president has begun two committees to prepare for next year’s budget. The first, called the Resource Optimization and Service Enhancement (ROSE) project, examines how the university allocates its resources and services.
The second, called Optimizing Academic Resources (OARs), seeks to maximize how academic and research programs are delivered at the University.
Three subcommittees make up the OARS project: Strategic Enrolment Management; Rules, Regulations and Red Tape; and Academic Synergies. UMSU currently holds a position on the Steering Committee of the ROSE project, as well as on the Strategic Enrolment Management subcommittee of OARS.
In UMSU’s executive report from their Semi-Annual General Meeting, held on Nov. 12, they said,
“UMSU supports the idea of reviewing the university’s operations for cost-savings, but we are wary that the process will be used to justify cuts to university services, jobs and possibly even academic programs.”
UMSU says they will use their subcommittee positions to oppose proposals contrary to the interests of students.
The number of faculty positions vacant range in numbers according to the size and need of each department.
Danny Mann, head of the bio-systems engineering department commented on the reasoning for why eight positions are available, pointing out that not all academic vacancies are for profs.
“The positions that are listed are all related to recent funding received by one of the professors in our department, Dr. Levin. [ . . . ] He is looking to hire graduate students and other research personnel for the major research grant he has received to participate in the Microbial Genomics for Bio-fuels and Co-Products from Bio-refining Processes project.”
Spak said, “We are facing some major hurdles, but knowing that we have two efficiency studies going on is one step we are taking to try to be proactive. We are carefully looking at vacancy positions and analysing needs and looking at alternative ways to fill positions.”