GIE campaign aims to fill funding

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

With less than a year until the expected opening of the Global Innovation Exchange building, Wilfrid Laurier University has gone public with their aim to raise money.
Laurier recently launched a campaign to “build Canada’s best business school,” which hopes to raise a total of $55 million for a variety of “priorities” for the school of business and economics and the department of mathematics.

The university is 63 per cent of the way to their goal.

“It’s not just the building, it’s also the programs,” said Jana Gordon, assistant vice-president of development and campaign director in the department of development and alumni relations.

“So programming includes things for scholarships, things for faculty and staff … and the different programs within SBE and that includes student support.”

According to Gordon, the university received $72.6 million from the government in the summer of 2011 to build the GIE building — which costs approximately $103 million — and is required to make up the remaining portion, which is about $30 million of the $55-million campaign. The remaining $25 million is for priorities.

Laurier divided up the remaining amount into priorities that will help the business experience. These include student scholarships, international initiatives, professorships and chairs, entrepreneurship, a startup fund and excellence in business education.

Up until about two weeks ago, Laurier was in what Gordon calls a “silent phase,” which means they were reaching out to “top prospect” and private sources, such as companies, foundations and people for top dollars.

Now, the campaign will spread to an “annual giving level,” which is just below $25,000.

The campaign is for anyone who wants to participate, but will be targeted at SBE alumni, faculty and staff.

“We also have community partners and corporations that very much want to be part of the campaign,” Gordon explained.

Ian Ko, a second-year business student and co-president of E-Business Laurier and corporate relations manager of Laurier’s School of Business and Economics Students’ Society, said that Laurier’s business school is currently well-rounded, but with the campaign it has the chance to stand out and “properly exercise its power.”

“Not only does the physical space create a sense of pride, but also it’s just more space to do things,” he said.

“$55 million is great. It’s much more than just physical installations [the money is] going towards, but scholarships that would bring in some fresh talent.”

However, Ko also warned that while putting money toward the business program will certainly help its growth and reputation, other faculties could also benefit from the attention and monetary push.

“Money is always great, but simply just throwing a lot of money as it might not do the trick,” Ko explained.

“I am a business student myself, but coming from the perspective of a student who cares about other faculties too, I think that it would definitely help the business school, but they would have to be careful in how they spend the money and not just toward all business students. Maybe the other faculties need to be accounted for.”

Ko stressed the need for Laurier to grow as one and hopes the GIE building can be used by all members of the university, not just those in business and math.

If the university does not meet their $55-million goal, Gordon explained they will raise money until the goal is met.

The GIE building is still set to open and be in full occupancy fall 2015, and Laurier hopes to complete the campaign by opening day.

According to Gordon, this campaign will provide the support SBE needs to find its mark as a national competitor.

“We are a great school, we want to be the best and so these are the things that we feel will support that goal,” she said.

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