Feb. 28, 2020Print | PDF
I am very happy to be with you this morning to share the latest plans Wilfrid Laurier University is making as we move toward expanding our presence in Milton. In fact, you’ve asked me here to talk about two of my favourite subjects—Laurier and Laurier in Milton.
Together, we are building an education village that sets a new standard for how governments, communities, businesses, and post-secondary institutions can work together to deliver the kind of future-focused education that will drive the social development, environmental health, and prosperity of our province.
This morning I’d like to share my vision of what is possible for Milton when post-secondary education is fully realized in this community.
We intend to develop a hub of teaching, learning, and research dedicated to addressing the most pressing challenges of our time.
Through a strategic focus centred around academic and research excellence, we will direct our efforts toward improving planetary health – a field with wide-reaching implications for the local and global condition of our society.
Our unique value proposition is to deliver our nationally-recognized brand of student-centred, experience-focused education and research in the service of finding solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
I don’t need to tell this audience about everything Milton already has going for it. A growing community, a sound and expanding economy, and visionary leadership, set midway in the most vibrant part of the province, the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor.
It therefore fits that our vision for higher learning in Milton will be entirely unlike anything we’ve seen in Canada.
We will build a community-integrated, innovative, and relevant education village, partnered with Conestoga College, that delivers a unique mix of academic and research excellence and experiential learning.
Our partners are critical to making this vision a reality—Conestoga College, local businesses, community members, and all levels of government will join us in making a tremendous impact on our community and province as we envision creating something truly unique in Canada.
Laurier’s goal is to deliver on a vision of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – that integrates teaching, learning and research into everything we do.
This ambitious vision is a campus with planetary health in all its dimensions incorporated into its mission.
...our vision for higher learning in Milton will be entirely unlike anything we’ve seen in Canada.
What does this mean? It means that we make central the recognition that the health of our planet is inextricably linked to the health of our society, our economy, and our communities.
That we recognize the dependence and intersection of healthy humans and communities, our natural systems, and the wise stewardship of our natural resources.
It means developing applied science and health and engineering programs that are problem-based, that imbed experiential learning and creativity at their core, that are innovative and support entrepreneurial training, that partner with businesses and community organizations, and that include discovery and application in everything they do.
It means that we recognize that the complexity of problem-solving in the 21st century includes the need to consider poverty and inequality, sustainable energy use, economic growth, Indigenous governance, industrialization, urbanisation, climate change, land, water and natural resources use, peace and justice, among others, in STEAM programs.
It means a built environment that embodies the future-focused mission of the programs, whether we are teaching and learning about sustainability, undertaking research on complex challenges, or engaging community.
It means a focus on planetary health and green economics that will not be limited to the material we teach but rather, will inform every step of our campus development as we move forward in creating a fully net-zero campus.
It means embracing the opportunity of the green belt lands available to the campus to develop a “living lab” approach to education and research.
It means creating a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion so that every member of the university community – our students, our employees, our alumni, our partners – can thrive.
In the end, we will not only meet the needs of this community for post-secondary education, but make Milton’s Education Village a model of the work-live-learn-play philosophy.
These plans are ambitious, but we are confident that this model will find success. We recognize, however, that we cannot do this alone.
Milton’s businesses and community organizations will be both the partners and beneficiaries of Laurier’s outstanding teaching, entrepreneurship, innovation, incubators and accelerators, and impactful research connected to national and global networks.
Our deep ties to our host communities—demonstrated by our successes in Waterloo, Kitchener and Brantford—are central to Laurier’s success and Milton will be no exception.
We are already here, delivering our two-year, part-time Master of Education program to an at-capacity cohort that launched last month. And we are also providing professional development programming here through our Faculty of Social Work.
This is just the beginning. Now is the time to widen the circle of influence and engage more leaders and sectors in taking the next step towards bringing the Milton Education Village to life.
I am pleased to announce that over the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to members of the corporate, Indigenous, non-profit, and public-sector communities to help guide the direction of our mission and transform Milton into Ontario’s newest centre of higher learning.
Laurier is already home to the largest business co-op program in Canada and each year, thousands of our undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in arts, business, economics, social work, education, and science programs pursue career-focused learning opportunities across Ontario and beyond.
A key component of our expansion strategy in Milton is to develop more of these kinds of opportunities for our students by encouraging our industry partners to invest in their potential and help us build the leaders of tomorrow.
None of these current or future achievements would be possible without the productive partnerships we enjoy with all levels of government.
MPP Parm Gill has been a driving force in advocating for Laurier and Conestoga’s presence in Halton Region at Queen’s Park.
Mayor Gordon Krantz’s vision has been critical to getting us to this point, and I’m so happy he now gets to see all these plans being turned into action.
Through MP Adam van Koeverden, we have a strong advocate in the federal government.
I also want to acknowledge the incredible partners we have in Conestoga College and Dr. John Tibbits.
I look forward continuing our discussions around plans for the Milton Education Village.
The primary goal shared by both institutions is to explore the ways in which we can bring innovative post-secondary education to Milton, Halton Region, and the Province of Ontario.
These are exciting times for everyone involved in this project, and I look forward to the next opportunity to share even more good news with you all.
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