Dr. Mark Evered and I sat at his board room table discussing the realities of Canadian university funding today and how he and his team make collective decisions that have a direct affect on people's lives. As the President of the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Dr. Evered shed light on his thought process. The following are the words of Dr. Mark Evered.
I know there may be those who say, “you got to be impersonal, you got to get to that place where it’s an impersonal decision”. I have never been successful at that. It’s always personal and frankly, I personally believe it’s wrong not to think of it personally. If we’re making cutbacks, there are people’s lives that are going to be affected, maybe jobs are affected and that’s hard.
At the same time, it’s important that we remember we are simply the stewards of other people’s money. This university is a steward of the money that you pay us as tuition and we’re stewards of the money that comes from other people’s taxes. There’s no magic to it. About half of our operating budget comes from government which means it comes from people’s taxes, a quarter comes from student tuition and a quarter comes from other interesting ways we raise money – international student tuition for example, bookstore sales, residence fees. So we cannot shirk our responsibility as good stewards of the resources we have, weather they are increasing or shrinking resources, to make what we believe to be the best decisions not just for the institution but takes it back to the students we serve and students we will serve and what is best for our community.
It’s always personal and frankly, I personally believe it’s wrong not to think of it personally.
There is no question that it’s hard, and I worry about people who don’t find it hard, I have never been able to get myself to that place where I can’t stop thinking about the individual who’s affected. But I can’t let that prevent me from making what I believe to be the responsible decision. I think it’s always important in these positions as a president or vice president of a university to remember you could be wrong and we have a responsibility to get it as right as we possibly can. The best way to do that is to test your ideas on others and create the kind of environment in which people are comfortable challenging you.