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Self-sufficiency key for U of W, Axworthy says

No provincial cash coming to rescue

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There's no provincial money coming to the rescue -- the University of Winnipeg is on its own to find cash, president Lloyd Axworthy warned Wednesday.

"The gap keeps growing. We need to become increasingly self-sufficient," Axworthy said in his final state of the university address.

Axworthy, who will retire next summer, said government grants cover 50 per cent of costs, tuition capped at an increase of inflation covers 28 per cent, and he doesn't see that changing.

"All governments are in a tight bind," he said: Some have promised to reduce taxes; all have huge pressures on their health-care systems.

His message to the entire campus: "Let's be creative and find our own resources."

SSLqThe gap keeps growing. We need to become increasingly self-sufficient' -- U of W president Lloyd Axworthy

Axworthy vowed to find a further $1 million to cut from administration this year after three years of freezing or reducing management salaries.

He pointed out the education faculty has developed a post-baccalaureate training program that will bring in revenue, as will the faculty of business leadership management training course next month.

The Richardson science complex can make money, the same way the University of Manitoba's SmartPark does by working with private-sector researchers, Axworthy said.

The president said some American universities have developed online degree programs that are earning significant dollars.

"We don't have to copy it, but we have to understand it," he said. "We're going to have to do our own experimentation."

One possible online program that would be unique to the U of W would be carving a special niche in aboriginal-development practices, he said. "We'd create something that Harvard, Stanford, U of T (University of Toronto) can't do."

Axworthy said the university won't see any megaprojects in his final year, even though he has long coveted space in the Bay building and has wanted money for a physics building on the gravel parking lot behind the Richardson complex.

The RecPlex indoor soccer complex and wellness centre will open a year from now, with more than 20 inner-city athletic organizations having signed a charter with the U of W for guaranteed access. "It's going to be a charter -- it's guaranteed," said Axworthy.

He is still trying to work out a deal with the federal government to acquire the National Research Centre building on Ellice Avenue in partnership with First Nations, Axworthy said.

The U of W is investigating the state of gender equity on campus during this school year and has applied for a Canada Research Chair in data management, a field Axworthy said didn't exist five years ago.

The university has rebranded itself with the slogan Discover-Achieve-Belong.

Above all, he said, "Where do we place the arts and humanities in our university?"

He also said the U of W has to debunk the naysayers, especially in business, who claim liberal-arts grads face a bleaker economic future than science, engineering and other grads.

The U of W needs to make 'a bold statement' this year on the value of a liberal arts degree, Axworthy declared.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2013 A6

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