Laurier Milton campus still a goal for the future

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On Monday Jan. 28, 2019, Wilfrid Laurier University released a statement on their website saying that they were still committed to creating a campus in Milton and continuing their commitment to education in the Milton Education Village. 

In October of 2018, the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario pulled out the funding of three different collaborative campuses.

These were between universities and colleges in Ontario, one being the Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College campus that was planned to happen in Milton.

The campus is set to provide programming in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — also known as STEAM — which would bring even more opportunity to students who like the feel and culture of Laurier but may want to go into a program like engineering that has not been previously offered.

“We are committed to proceeding with developing a business plan and developing an academic plan, seeing what we can do that reflects Laurier’s objectives, the town’s objectives and also satisfy the government’s objectives,” said Deborah Dubenofsky, the vice-president of finance and administration at Laurier. 

Dubenofsky was named the senior project lead for the Milton campus.

Laurier has created a two-phase plan to continue their vision of STEAM education. They will be providing a post-secondary institution to those in the Milton area, despite the setback that was incurred from the pulling of government funding. 

“We can do things in a staged way and we can honour our commitments we’ve made to the town of Milton since 2008 and that of course was to bring post-secondary education. We will be taking advantage of the space that we have that is called the Milton Education Village Innovation Centre,” Dubenofsky said.

“We will look at offering part-time degree and non-degree courses in probably fall of 2019 or winter 2020. Over the longer term at the Milton Education Village, we need to develop a longer-term academic and business plan.”

Laurier saw the approval of their $90 million project in April of 2018 after a few unaccepted proposals to the government for the project, including attempts in 2014 and 2015. 

The approval came only six months before the funding was then cut back, due to the government saying the funding was not feasible as a result of the $15 billion deficit already incurred. 

“The commitment to STEAM programming remains Laurier’s objective, that is more suited to the second phase, where you would have a purposefully built building that would have laboratory space and so on,” Dubenofsky said.

“At the Innovation Centre, it’s looking at some existing courses that we currently offer that we can bring to Milton, to at least get the community engaged — and we can start bringing Laurier’s high-quality academic programs to students in Milton.”

Phase two of Laurier’s Milton plan is one that would include developing a new building on over 400 acres of land and would provide the resources necessary for students, like labs and new technology. But for phase one, they have rented out space for student use.

“The events in October were related to capital funding only, so the cost to deliver existing programming are going to be offset potentially by cost recovery programs to be delivered in Milton again in that first phase,” Dubenofsky said.

“The longer term — the cost of developing the academic plan and the business plan — that still needs to be worked out.”

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