President's Advisory Committee on the Impact of the Economic Situation

Dear members of the McMaster community,

Just before the end of last year, the President’s Advisory Committee on the Impact of the Current Economic Situation (PACICES) released its interim report to the University. Since then, the group has continued its consultation and review and I am pleased to report that I have now received and am able to share its final report. The document can be downloaded here:
PACICES Final Report (PDF).

The final report contains an extensive review of the University’s financial position as well as a series of recommendations to strengthen McMaster’s short-term and longer-term outlook. It has been opportune to have the PACICES group meeting while the University has been managing through the current economic challenges. As the group refined its recommendations, we have been able to take the Committee’s work into consideration as financial and other decisions have been made. Specific recommendations in the final report will be forwarded to the appropriate offices and committees.

I encourage everyone to read the PACICES report but I will provide a few key comments here to ensure that the McMaster community is updated on the status of many of the report’s recommendations.

Strategic Planning

Recommendations for a review of the University’s mission and vision through a new strategic planning exercise, definition of excellence, and prioritization process will be reviewed in consultation with the incoming president. The current Refining Directions Implementation Committee has issued an updated list of priorities which will continue to guide decision making.

Government Relations

The Board of Governors at its March 4th meeting approved a government relations strategy for McMaster which outlines the framework for our government relations activities as recommended in the PACICES report. McMaster will continue to strengthen its role with all three levels of government and we are working to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming president.

Internal Leadership

The report recommends stronger two-way communication within the McMaster community. Our current goals include increased levels of communication and transparency as well as consultation and opportunities for input. I understand that the incoming president views communication as an important priority.


There are numerous recommendations in this section. The review of the University’s Planning Committee mandate is already underway, debt management indicators are in place, the operating budget for 2010/11 will include all funds, and the Alternative Budget Task Force is conducting modeling based on its recommended activity-based budget model. Eliminating budget deficits, optimizing tuition revenue, and ensuring we are able to fully fund any capital expansion are goals the University shares with PACICES and all efforts are going towards achieving these objectives on an ongoing basis.

PACICES spent considerable time considering and assessing the many and complicated issues surrounding salaries, benefits and pensions and the impact of total remuneration costs on the University. These are not easy times and the willingness of TMG, CAW, hourly workers and senior administrative leaders to increase their pension contributions and reduce future pension liabilities demonstrates a flexibility that will help us manage those particular challenges that PACICES presents as among the make or break issues currently facing McMaster.


We agree with PACICES that the use of third party consultants has a place in structural reviews. These are particularly helpful in specific situations and have already proved valuable in finding operational cost savings in the Library, Registrar’s Office and the Administrative division. We agree that ways need to be found to make strategic investments in technology and the draft Information Technology Strategic Plan which will be finalized this spring moves us far closer to having a coordinated approach to our current and future IT needs.

The PACICES report is a helpful and important road map to the issues the University must continue to address, including how to continuously improve the quality of McMaster’s learning environment.

Understanding the University’s financial position and processes is not an easy task and members of PACICES have been devoted to developing a thorough knowledge of the University and to creating the committee’s recommendations. On behalf of McMaster I would like to thank members of PACICES for their dedication, creativity and willingness to invest so much of their time and energy into this important work.

Yours sincerely,
Peter George