Development & Alumni Relations
New building helps Laurier grow - from the Brantford Expositor
By Michelle Ruby, Expositor Staff
A ribbon-cutting on Friday officially marked the completion and opening of Laurier Brantford's $26-million Research and Academic Centre.
Supporters of the university packed a lecture hall to to celebrate the opening of the building's east wing. A 2,800-square-metre (30,000-square-foot) west wing opened in September 2010.
"This building is allowing us to reach a lot of academic milestones," said Lesley Cooper, principal of the campus. "It's allowing us to develop new and innovative programming, giving us research capacities, and allowing us to develop a science program for the first time."
The 3,700-square-metre (40,000-square-foot) east wing has dedicated space for faculty offices, both wet and dry science labs, lecture space, as well as a room that can serve both as a circle room and a long room for First Nations students.
The centre also will allow Laurier Brantford to increase student enrolment from the current 2,700 to about 4,500. The project received a federal government investment of $13 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program and a matching contribution from the Ontario government through the 2009 budget.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Brant MP Phil McColeman reminisced about being a student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, formerly Waterloo Lutheran, in the mid-1970s, along with Brant MPP Dave Levac. At the time, there were fewer than 2,000 students at the campus.
"(Laurier Brantford) is one of the biggest success stories in Ontario, if not Canada," said Levac. "It's an example of how a campus can grow when partnerships are formed. A lot of university towns don't have that vision." Levac called education "the great equalizer. "We get to boast in our community that there is no reason why any child shouldn't have a postsecondary education."
Laurier University president Max Blouw said the research and academic centre is a major expansion for the city campus and reflects an "important investment in the social, cultural and economic prosperity of the city and surround communities. "Any community that doesn't have post-secondary education is at a disadvantage nowadays."
Mayor Chris Friel said the new building represents "the maturing of this campus. "We want to be a 21st century city and the underpinning of that is education."
Laurier Brantford began in a single building housing 39 students in 1999. The campus now includes 18 buildings in the core. The university will introduce bachelor of science programs for the first time in 2012-13. In the fall, it launched its first local graduate program and a business management technology program.