Even the University of Calgary cannot escape the global economic recession. The last financial projection saw a $16.8 million decrease in their working capital funds which totals $405 million and funds the operating budget for the entire university.
"There is no direct connection between this year's budget and the uncertainty in the markets," explained vice-president external relations Roman Cooney in an e-mail.
The majority of the university's working capital is in preservation of capital investments, which are made up of treasury bills and high grade corporation short-term investments.
"They're all, unless a company totally fails, safe investments," assured U of C treasurer and director of investment Michael Trattner. "We invest in major companies, like Toyota Canada, for example. We don't invest in Ford or GM because their ratings are too low. We do anticipate that it will have some affect, but it wouldn't be major."
Cooney noted that this is not a direct loss in operating funds and would not have to be made up elsewhere in the budget. The major concerns with the budget surround construction, utility costs and increasing salaries. The U of C is in the midst of a $1 billion infrastructure expansion, including the Taylor Family Digital Library, the Dr. Fok Ying Tung International House and the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building. Salaries increased about $40 million last year and utility rates went up almost $3 million.
"It's a separate budget precisely to avoid exposure to market volatility," said Cooney. "The long-term impact will not be known for some months, if not years."
Trattner agreed, adding the losses will be absorbed at roughly $1.3 million per year for next nine years.
"For the working capital, we've already made some changes," said Trattner. "We're expanding on the sources we rely on."
He added that the university will continue using investment managers to look after the resources.
The loss is separate from the $427 million invested as part of the endowment pool. Over $70 million of those endowments are invested in the U.S. market and another $79.6 million are international equities. Both are capped at roughly 20 per cent of the total endowment fund with the rest split between Canadian bonds and equities. For the year ending Sept. 30, the fund saw an unrealized loss of $41.8 million, meaning the university had a lower return than expected. Trattner expects no impact on scholarships for the 2009-2010 academic year.