The development of a university

It is hard to believe that I’ve been roaming the halls of the Laurier campus for close to 10 years. Naturally, this is where I vehemently defend myself and tell you I’m not on my sixth victory lap. In fact, my timeline at Laurier is quite unique and has permitted me to be on the receiving end of many great physical transformations. I’ve been an undergrad, a student-employee, a full-time employee, and I’m currently a part-time MBA student. I know this campus well.


If we made plans to go to the Turret,
we didn’t update our status on
Facebook or send an instant message;
we called each other, on a landline.”


The physical landscape of Laurier as well as the impact of technology, in my opinion, are the true markers of change. When I started at Laurier in 2000, the campus was quite different. Most students today would be hard pressed to believe many of the buildings they use everyday didn’t exist 10 years ago. And technology, well let’s just say I was about one of only three people in a second year lecture opening a laptop in 1E1 to take notes. If we made plans to go to the Turret, we didn’t update our status on Facebook or send an instant message; we called each other, on a landline.

I’ve been the recipient of change for almost a decade, which means I’ve seen the construction of Bricker Academic Building, King Street Residence, Waterloo College Hall, the Schelgel Centre, the Career Services building and the acquisition of St. Michael’s campus. I endured countless renovations such as the FNCC, including Wilf’s and the Turret, the dining hall (now the Fresh Food Company), Alumni Field, University Stadium, DAWB, 1E1, Alumni Hall and most recently the beautifying of campus spaces such as the quad. The list is impressive; possibly the only thing more impressive is that I was able to write it from memory, since every change has impacted me.

With these additions and alterations came many memorable firsts. My classmates and I listened to inspiring lectures about Olympic history in the spacious rooms of the then new Bricker Academic Building. I watched the women’s lacrosse team win championships on the new turf of University Stadium. I waited not-so-patiently at the St. Michael’s Campus crosswalk, actually, I still do. I was also the first editor of The Cord to produce a newspaper out of the basement of MacDonald House residence when we were “forced out” of the third floor of the FNCC to make way for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union renovations.

Even the outskirts of campus have changed to accommodate the growth of enrollment. I barely recognize Ezra and Bricker when I drive down them now. Long gone are the student houses marred with couches on front porches and the occasional passed out student. Instead towering multi-bedroom apartments now line the streets, while students walk into parked cars because they’re busy messaging someone on their smartphone.The student population has doubled since I started; now there’s close to 15,000 students enrolled across all our campuses, including the Branford campus and the faculty of social work in Kitchener.

There is also Laurier’s dramatic new presence at the corner of King and York streets in Toronto. The sprawl of Laurier has increased incredibly in just 10 years, and the next few years look even more promising with a proposed campus in Milton.

In addition to aesthetic changes, Laurier continues to pad its resume with remarkable accomplishments. Most recently, it was touted as the first school in Canada to provide its MBA students with BlackBerrys as part of an integrated education model that embraces technology and the ability for students and professors to be connected in a whole new way.

With this commitment to technology comes a challenge in updating its IT infrastructure. Students today demand instant access across a network that is both reliable and fast. It is therefore critical that Laurier respond to these changes to ensure that its reputation as a leader in education and experience flourishes.

I’ve witnessed a lot of changes throughout the years, which have shaped the campus not just physically but academically, socially and environmentally. Now the onus is on this administration to make sure that we continue to grow according to size, the environment, technology and perhaps most importantly, the economy.

Caitlin Howlett was The Cord Weekly Editor-in-Chief in 2004-05. She holds a BA in Kinesiology ’05 and is completing her MBA part-time. She currently works for Research In Motion in R&D, volunteers with Sustainable Waterloo and is a director for the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association.

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