What the future brings
Despite the renovations and improvements around campus, there is some worry that as Laurier markets itself for more students, the university will lose sight of its cherished community atmosphere.
And the changes are far from over. McMurray said “there are still some places that need work.”
This is where the school’s master plan comes in, which has bred excitement among the executives on campus.
The master plan is being prepared by IBI Group. It is a strategic development planning exercise that maps the changes to be made to the campus over the next 25 years.
The master plan holds many proposed changes for Laurier, and has garnered plenty of reactions from students, faculty and staff.
“Our needs are changing,” said Dawson. “The student demographics have changed and their expectations have changed and are continuously changing as far as what we need to do and what we need to focus on.”
Dawson feels that in the past Laurier has been “opportunistic” in the developments on campus, simply building what needs to be built as money becomes available.
The hope is that the master plan will give Laurier a clearer direction in the future.
The university now has a plan for the infrastructure of the school; in the years to come, alumni and students are going to see drastic transformations.
Perhaps the most notable plan is the changes to what McMurray calls “the jewel of our campus,” and a destination that embodies the culture of Laurier: the Concourse.
[Laurier] is a community, it’s
supportive, it’s convenient, it’s
friendly, you can’t help but bump into
-–Dean of students David McMurray
The new “Campus Learning Commons” will be expanded out onto the deck and a second floor will eventually be built where an overpass will allow students to travel across University Avenue.
For now, the next project McMurray foresees is the Global Innovation and Exchange Building, which will be built where St. Michael’s Campus is now.
“[It] will be the new home of SBE. And then the Peters and Schlegel would probably be consumed by faculty of arts,” McMurray explained.
Along with some structural changes to the buildings come an enhanced need for staff and faculty parking.
“The most valuable land on campus is covered in asphalt and people park on it,” explained McMurray.
This means that in time parking will hopefully be expanded to the outskirts of the campus and the interior of the campus will continue to become easily accessible to students, with the exception of Mid campus Drive, which will hopefully become a through street.
Other changes highlighted by McMurray include the incorporation of residences and learning spaces like lecture halls, and the creation of more study spaces and common areas.
Although many of these changes are years in the making, Sheridan believes that “within five years there’s going to be a lot of changes; with 10 there’s going to be even more. The campus definitely has to evolve as the students evolve and our population grows.”
This growth is not necessarily confined to the Waterloo campus.
“Brantford 10 years from now may well look a lot like the Waterloo campus did 10 years ago in terms of perhaps the number of students [and] … the growth of services,” said Docherty.
“If Milton were to go forward 10 years from now it might look like Brantford does right now.”
But not everyone is as pleased with the rapid expansion of Laurier over the past 10 years and the projections for its future.
It’s because of this insane rush to
expand, develop the campus at Milton,
to make ourselves attractive to God
knows who, and what we lose is what
this place is supposed to be about.”
-Professor Peter Eglin
Some, such as sociology professor Peter Eglin, argue that there is a lack of emphasis on academia and on spaces that enhance the student experience for open dialogue and critical thinking.
“It’s because of this insane rush to expand, develop the campus at Milton, to make ourselves attractive to God knows who, and what we lose is what this place is supposed to be about,” said Eglin.
“In the drive to market and compete and brand ourselves as a place that is identified by a focus on leadership and purpose, [these are] meaningless words. That’s where we are, I think woe to the meaning of the university on this campus.”
Despite some skepticism and questioning, Rosehart sees the future of Laurier and its infrastructure as bright.
“I think the future’s bright. I think [Laurier] is a strong institution,” said Rosehart.
“It’s positioned quite uniquely in the Ontario system I think. There’s still a lot more potential for research growth … but I think no matter what happens universities always need something.”