Laurier receives funding for new business and math building

On June 20, John Milloy, minister of training, colleges and universities announced to a room of Wilfrid Laurier University faculty and staff that the province is providing funding for a new academic building on the St. Michael’s campus site.

“All of us recognize that students are at the heart of our province’s post secondary system,” Milloy said in the Senate and Board chambers just before announcing the $72.6 million investment in part of the government’s Putting Students First program.

The funding, going toward the construction of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE), reflects the first phase of Laurier’s master plan to replace the current building on the north side of University Avenue West. The development will house the school of business and economics, as well as the mathematics programs at the university.

“One of the underlying principles this is going to address is integrating the business school much more into the community,” said Ginny Dybenko, executive of strategic initiatives at Laurier, adding that the GIE will attract organizations and companies into the school to engage students and professors.

Dybenko also commented on the potential for new programs at Laurier by blending business with other departments. “What we’re really looking for … is opportunities between faculties. What can we do with the great [reputation] we’ve built in business to build programs that students might be interested in, like an arts management program or a music management program,” Dybenko speculated.

The new centre will open up an additional 2,000 spaces for students, which Laurier President Max Blouw explained would include international and graduate-level students.

“Once constructed, a number of existing buildings can be emptied for a period of time to enable them to be renovated and refreshed,” said Blouw highlighting the benefits of this project for other faculties and programs outside of business and math.

Laurier vice president academic and provost Deb MacLatchy explained that the Schlegel centre, Bricker Academic and Peters building will have space open up once the GIE is completed. “Other units, either academic units or academic support units will be able to put forward what their ideas are and what their space needs are and we’ll go through a process to determine how we would redo the space,” she said.

In discussing the new space, MacLatchy added that it would reflect the needs of students and technology that has become integral to the classroom. “When a lot of our older buildings were built, that may not have been at the forefront of the thought of the design of the building.”

The following phases of the campus master plan will include upgrading the facilities on the south side of University Avenue, and building a linking overpass between the GIE and main campus buildings.

“We have a short term, but also a medium and long term strategy,” explained Milloy on the possibility of funding for later projects in Laurier’s master plan.

“We’ve committed to make our colleges and universities part of our long term capital strategy which means we’ll be working with all of them to identify what their needs are, what their goals are, what their long term plans are. We need to see how that makes sense in a province wide basis and we want to fund accordingly,” Milloy clarified.

While the current investment for the Global Innovation Exchange is substantial, Blouw noted that the total cost of the project will be over $100 million. “We have a lot of fundraising to do,” he told the audience.

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