Open applications for investment funds

In passing the 2010-2011 budget, Wilfrid Laurier University administration have created a fund to support initiatives proposed by members of the Laurier community that will enhance the academic or administrative operations of the university.

“Reallocation of resources for any institution is an important thing as priorities shift, as needs change,” explained university president Max Blouw.

The new Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) is made up of 0.5 per cent of base funds that were moved, allowing for $730,000 to be available this year for applications that are put forward. Submissions, due Sept. 14, will be discussed and decided upon by the university president and vice-presidents.

Blouw expressed that the decision to have an open application was to utilize the ideas and insight of the Laurier community.

“We need to know what are the really good ideas, what are people excited about, what do they want to achieve, how do they want to actuate the academic plan and so to receive proposals we will know who is really engaged, who has really wonderful ideas,” he said.

Although there are no clear projects that are expected to result from this fund, Blouw hopes that areas of need and areas of passion can be pursued. “[Projects] could take the form of academic delivery of new research enterprise or new academic areas or for example in the business side of the university, opportunities for business development, who knows?” Blouw speculated.

Kyle Walker, president of Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, expressed the union’s interest in the opportunity to improve student life on campus.

“The students’ union is exploring the possibility of submitting a proposal to the strategic investment fund for 24-hour access to the library for the Laurier community seven days a week for the entirety of both semesters.”

“We’re definitely looking at moving in a direction where we can get more study space on campus available all year round,” he explained. Walker cited the problems in previous projects to have the library open 24-hours during the exam periods and until 2 a.m. during the semester that resulted in only moderate use.

“Those were the two months of the school year when students don’t have any commitments during the day,” he said.

“For final exams a lot of the resources in the library aren’t that useful… It’s the other three months when students are involved all day and into the evening hours that they want to get some studying done overnight.”

Since the data on library usage can’t project whether such an initiative will be a success, Walker said that a pilot project would provide such insight. “We’re never going to really know until we try it.”

While the funding is set as a one-time-only initiative, long-term projects will still be considered. Multi-year projects may foreclose the opportunity to other submissions however if the fund is overall successful it may be increased in future years to provide greater financial support.

There is no set date for announcing the chosen projects, as it is dependent on the number of applicants. Blouw stressed that it would be done as efficiently as possible.

“I think it’s important that various units know whether they’ve been supported or not,” he said. “We’ll see how quickly we can get it turned around.”

Strategic Investment Fund applications are available from the VP: Finance and Administration page at wlu.ca.

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