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Cap U faces major cuts; departments, programs shut down or suspended

Capilano University, facing a $1.3 million shortfall, is cutting or suspending programs on a scale rarely seen in B.C. post-secondary education.

While the official decision on the cuts will take place at the May 14 meeting of the university's board of governors, individual departments and programs have been notified during this past week.

Faculty members told The Tyee that the university's 2013-14 budget must be cut by seven per cent to deal with a $1.3 million shortfall. This will translate to eliminating 186 to 220 sections. (Eight sections, or classes, make up a full-time yearly faculty workload.) An additional 15 per cent cut is anticipated beyond the coming budget year.

According to the website of the Capilano University Faculty Association (CFA), several departments are being eliminated altogether. These include Computing Science, Kinesiology, Geology, and Commerce.

The Applied Business department is also being eliminated, with the termination of some programs and the transfer of others. Medical Office Assistant, Accounting Support/Business Fundamentals, and all online Applied Business programs are cut. Legal Administrative Assistant will move to Legal Studies and Accounting Assistant will move to the School of Business.

In the School of Art and Design, several two-year diploma programs have been "suspended": Interactive Design, Textile Arts, and Studio Art. On-campus student art works have been draped in black plastic or fabric as a protest.

A commenter on the CFA website reported this morning that all adult basic education is being cut on the Squamish campus, a reduction of 12 sections, as well as various other section cuts and cuts to operations.

A new Tumblr site called CuttheCuts lists "just a sampling" of courses to be eliminated.

Capilano University has posted background information on the 2013-14 budget, as well as a message from the university's president and board chair, saying "These are particularly challenging times for Capilano University because we are a university funded on a college operating grant." (A community college for 40 years, Capilano was designated a university in 2008.)

Several faculty noted that although Capilano serves the North Shore, represented by Liberals for many years, the government has long underfunded it. Naomi Yamamoto, running for re-election in North Vancouver-Lonsdale, is a former minister of advanced education, and before that served on the Capilano board. The current minister, Ralph Sultan, is running for re-election in West Vancouver-Capilano.

When The Tyee contacted the Sultan campaign for a comment on the Capilano University situation, it responded with a joint statement by all North Shore Liberal MLAs:

We regret that Capilano University has been forced to curtail certain programs in order to balance its operating budget for 2013-2014.  Capilano University is a superbly led, prudently managed teaching university with over 5,000 students and an operating budget of $37 million. Since 2001/2002 operating grants to this institution have increased by 27% and new capital projects have been funded in the range of $45 million.

We are confident that as economic conditions improve in our province, so too will funding available for Capilano University to continue its expansion of programs and services.  We commend the responsible actions announced by the President and Board of Governors today, keeping Capilano University on a sustainable financial footing and strengthening its position for the future.

Crawford Kilian, who taught at Capilano College from 1968 to 2008, is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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