The economic situation is hitting the investments the University of Winnipeg relies on to fund scholarships and bursaries, but faculty is trying to turn the situation around.
“Because of the basic economic downturn, the trust funds for scholarships and bursaries haven’t worked out like years previous,” said Pauline Greenhill, women’s and gender studies professor and organizer of the fundraiser.
To make up for the losses, the University of Winnipeg Faculty Association (UWFA) recently voted unanimously in favour of fundraising for scholarships and bursaries through payroll donations.
Each year, between 1,800 and 2,000 students receive scholarships and/or bursaries from the U of W. For the fiscal year ending in 2009, the U of W paid out a total of $3,238,000, which includes funds for scholarships and bursaries, external awards and graduate scholarships. They are hoping to remain at this level for this fiscal year.
The money donated by faculty goes to the University of Winnipeg Foundation, rather than to the university itself, so it remains entirely confidential.
The University of Winnipeg Foundation will be waiving its usual five per cent administration fee, so 100 per cent of donations will go toward student scholarships and bursaries.
Due to confidentiality agreements, the total amount of funds raised by faculty is only speculative, but the goal of the initiative is to raise $250,000 – enough to match the contributions made by the University of Winnipeg administration this year.
To ensure that high priority scholarships like entrance scholarships are honoured, faculty members are asked to donate to a generalized fund set up by the Foundation, rather than to a specific award.
U of W administration said the amounts to be awarded at the undergraduate level will remain the same. All entrance scholarships and all access scholarships and bursaries (on which students depend for attendance) are also expected to be honoured, but departmental awards might be lower.
“It is still kind of a work in process… On a case by case basis, the values might be less,” said Dan Hurley, U of W’s senior executive officer.
The Foundation also gave the university a $600,000 operating grant to offset the shortfall, but the U of W is hoping to raise their own funds from outside sources so the Foundation’s funds won’t be eaten up, Hurley said.
One of these is the Alumni Association.
“The Alumni Association recently donated $10,000 to award the Alumni Entrance Scholarships,”
As well, additional scholarship money is coming from the international student fee of $10,500 per student that was implemented last September.
“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to award scholarships at roughly the same levels as last year,” Hurley said.
Published in Volume 63, Number 29 of The Uniter (July 16, 2009)