Projects approved for funding announced

Approved projects for the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), a $730,000 fund of money reallocated from Wilfrid Laurier University’s budget and made available by open applications, have been announced. Projects that received funding will contribute to changes in the classroom, campus and student experience at Laurier.

The initiatives will either be funded on a temporary basis or have been added to the university’s base budget permanently.

The report, released by VP: finance Jim Butler, shows that $29,000 has been devoted to the faculty of arts for a range of student retention initiatives that provide support to struggling students with the aim of keeping them enrolled in Laurier programs. “[It’s] a program to help them increase their study skills and they’ll be able to do better in their courses and stay as a student,” MacLatchy said. “This really helps to provide additional safety nets for students.”

Also proposed under the faculty of arts was an $80,000 bid by the global studies department and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament
Studies (LCMSDS) to develop programs that allow students to study abroad.

Part of the money will go toward a history course on war and memory held in the spring term that would allow students to, as part of their coursework, take a two-week field trip to Europe.

“We’ll be visiting battlefields, cemeteries, memorials and museums in Belgium and France,” LCMSDS director Terry Copp explained. Pending final approval for the course’s implementation from the faculty of arts, 18 undergraduate and graduate students could register this spring.

Approved in the faculty of science were funds for the hiring of an academic advisor. While there are already biology and chemistry departmental advisors, MacLatchy explained, “The faculty level advisors are more to develop programs around at-risk students, study skills and helping to integrate experiential learning experiences into academics.” Enhancements will also be made to chemistry labs with SIF money.

The School of Business and Economics (SBE) received $212,000 in funding for two initiatives. One will lead to the hiring of an academic director who will work campus-wide on entrepreneurship initiatives; the other more substantial project focuses on a “blended learning initiative” that seeks to further integrate technology into courses.

Dean of SBE Ginny Dybenko said the project will focus on “understanding and learning how to engage technology in the classroom,” adding that the goal is to create flexibility for students and not just meant to combat rising class sizes.

“In addition, we’re looking to bring the world into the classroom, being able to engage some of our partnership schools and professors from other countries to be able to heighten the global experience within the classroom.”

Dean of music Glen Carruthers explained that the approved projects in music, an advanced performance master class, peer mentoring and support for wind, brass and percussion ensembles could not have been a reality without SIF money. “We put forward projects that would improve the chances for our students to succeed in the course of the program and beyond the program,” he said.

MacLatchy stated that a $55,000 project to establish “Service Laurier”, a kiosk that would include student registration and OneCard services “amalgamated in one area, instead of having a whole bunch of different offices you would have one kiosk that would handle of those types of activities.”

As previously announced, the bid by the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union to have the library open as 24-hour study space was not approved.

However, the existing budget for extended hours was made a permanent part of the university budget to ensure that the hours will remain as they are.
MacLatchy was impressed by the scope of the projects approved and how they will serve students.

“I guess what I’m really most happy about is so many of these really focus on enhancing student success,” she said, “as well as providing increased opportunities for experiential learning at Laurier.”

350 pages
Applications for Strategic Investment Funds

Total funding announced

Yearly amount budgeted for tech initiatives in the classroom

Funding for upgrades to chemistry labs

—With files from Matthew Savard