Print Edition: September 18, 2013
Amid funding cuts over the summer, faculty services has undergone a massive transformation.
In the past, the service was utilized by both students and faculty for a variety of tasks, including paper submission, inter-campus deliveries, sessional office allocation, and more. However, administration announced in May that the Abbotsford campus service would be transformed and the Chilliwack campus service would be eliminated.
UFV provost Eric Davis explained that cutting faculty services was in response to lack of funding coming from the government.
“Millions of dollars [are] being cut from budgets across Canada,” he said. “We didn’t cut programs, we didn’t reduce services to students. We did something that was probably overdue in terms of making business sense.”
Davis went on to explain that faculty services was created at a time that pre-dates email and department assistants.
“It’s no longer necessary to have something like faculty services,” he remarked. “It is no longer the best use of your resources to do that … It has helped us in terms of balancing budgets and so on. In terms of everyday life, I don’t think there’s a huge difference.”
However, for former faculty services assistant Shelley Chute, it meant changing positions and cities.
“When they did that elimination, they eliminated eight ‘pay group 3’ positions,” she explained. “This was the last ‘pay group 3’ position at the whole institution. It’s not like I had a whole bunch of choices on where I could go.”
Chute went on to describe the work she executed at the Chilliwack campus despite being told she was no longer needed.
“They told me that the services I was providing were redundant … I worked on faculty course packs, I worked on their exams. I was the word processor for the whole campus,” she explained. “It wasn’t just ordering paper and keeping the photocopiers running.”
Chute has been with UFV for nearly 20 years. During her time with faculty services in Chilliwack she executed extra tasks as a reliable source of information on campus.
“I spent my day putting out fires … I provided a lot of services that were not really listed in my job description but because I was there I was able to help,” she said. “Now there’s absolutely no contact person in Chilliwack. There’s nobody that you can just walk up to and ask a question. There’s no information centre.”
While Chute has been in her new position since June, many of the faculty members that relied on her services in Chilliwack didn’t realize she had transferred to Assessment Services in Abbotsford until coming back to work this fall.
“I’m getting a barrage of emails saying, ‘Where are you? I can’t print my syllabus’ or ‘What office am I in?’ So the gaps are just starting to show up now,” she explained.
Davis noted that as far as he knows, things are functioning well at the Abbotsford campus, despite some minor issues with respect to distributing mail internally.
“The person in charge of the area, Kathy Gowdridge, when I spoke to her recently she was delighted with the reworking of the area and of her responsibilities,” he said. “Kathy is as accessible to the faculty as she was before, so if they have questions she’s always there to help.”
However, it would seem that such is not the case with the Chilliwack campus, which is now without faculty services entirely.
“The administration saw fit to leave Kathy Gowridge in faculty services in Abbotsford,” Chute remarked. “So why didn’t they leave somebody in faculty services in Chilliwack? They pared it down, they took away the student assignments, they took away the drop box, but she’s still there and she’s still helping the faculty.”