Welcome to the home page of Western Matters, my periodic newsletter for faculty and staff members. The article listed below was posted to this site April 24 , 2007.
Building the research-intensive university:
A look at the integration of Robarts Research Institute within Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
At the April 20 Senate meeting, and again at a special meeting of the Board of Governors held April 24, a detailed proposal was discussed and passed regarding the integration of Robarts within Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
In this issue of Western Matters, I’ve tried to anticipate questions faculty and staff may have, and to outline how this integration strengthens Western’s research mission and the long-term stability of one of Canada’s leading research institutions.
Q. What is the impetus for integrating Robarts with Western?
When Robarts approached Western in January regarding a possible integration of our two institutions, we entered into our consultations with two closely related goals in mind.
First, we wanted to ensure the long-term financial stability of one of Canada’s leading research institutions, with which Western has been closely associated since 1986 when Robarts was founded. Robarts’ scientists – often in partnership with Western faculty and students – conduct critically important research in the field of biomedicine that benefits people the world over, bringing international profile to London and our campus community. Western researchers also benefit enormously from having access to the world-class facilities available at Robarts in areas such as DNA sequencing, MRI and genomics, to name but a few. Ensuring a financially stable business model was in place to continue this important work was imperative.
Second, given its international reputation for excellence in biomedical science, Robarts plays a critical role in advancing Western’s research mission. The brilliant scientific minds and subsequent research grants that Robarts attracts to our campus community are absolutely vital to maintaining and strengthening Western’s position as one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities.
Q. Will Robarts retain its name and identity?
The Robarts brand is internationally known, so the Robarts name and identity will be retained following its integration into the Western family as a distinct research institute of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
Q. How will Robarts be managed and governed?
A Scientific Director will be recruited as Robarts’ leader, who will report to the Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. The Scientific Director will be supported by an Executive Committee and an Advisory Council on strategic and operational issues.
Robarts will adopt the same collegial decision-making process as exists for other institutes within the Western family. That is, the University’s Board of Governors and Senate will have the same authority over Robarts as these governance bodies do for similar units on campus.
Q. How will the integration and future operations be funded?
On March 29, the provincial government announced $23 million in funding, which included $11 million to be transferred to the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to cover the one-time costs associated with the Robarts integration. The remaining $12 million will be used to fund medical research equipment.
Before joining Western, Robarts will achieve cost reduction through restructuring in the amount of $2.6 million. After the integration, approximately $1.8 million in base funding will be required to balance Robarts’ operating budget. That sum will be drawn in equal parts from the University’s central budget and the Schulich School’s existing resources.
Q. Will there be job losses?
As has already been reported in the media, a total of 19 Robarts employees have been informed they will lose their jobs as a result of essential financial restructuring. This was a regrettable outcome of reducing expenditures at Robarts, which would have been necessary to ensure the long-term financial stability of the institute, regardless of the integration. Each person asked to leave was offered a financial package and career counseling to ease their transition.
Of the approximately 370 scientists and staff members remaining, all will receive an offer to continue their employment at Western in June.
Q. Will Robarts scientists and staff become members of Western’s various employee unions and employee associations?
Robarts staff members who are retained following the integration will be welcomed into an appropriate union or employee association at Western, while Robarts scientists will be welcomed as members of Western’s Faculty Association (UWOFA). The process for establishing tenured and tenure-track positions for Robarts scientists is still being determined.
Q. What is the timeline for integration?
The agreement between the University and Robarts provides for full integration by July 1, 2007.
President and Vice-Chancellor