Domestic enrolment up and campus renovations move forward despite pandemic
(SAULT STE. MARIE: January 28, 2021): The Algoma University Board of Governors convened virtually this evening for their first regular meeting of the new year. Those present received updates on student enrolment, campus renovations and other strategic initiatives, including research activity tied to the University’s Special Mission. Attendees were also apprised of ongoing efforts by the University to successfully navigate the global pandemic.
Although enrolment figures will not be finalized until the end of the current registration period, President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina informed the Board that preliminary reports indicate that domestic enrolment has grown at all three of Algoma’s campuses during the 2020-21 academic year, including 60% domestic growth in Brampton. “This is good news for Algoma, we want to acknowledge the investment in partnerships with PowerEd by Athabasca and Contact North as well as Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and NOHFC for their critical support this past year, especially during a period where we had to rapidly transition to high-quality remote learning for all students,” noted Vezina. The NOHC funding and training support has been critical to Algoma University’s success.
Interest in Algoma programming from international students remains high with over 1100 deposits received for the Winter 2021 term, a record number for the University. Given current travel constraints and the uncertainty of a return date for face-to-face delivery, a large number of international students have chosen to defer registration to a future term. As a result, the University continues to monitor spending to minimize long-term budget implications as it is predicted that final enrolment will fall below pre-pandemic forecasts.
A range of construction projects, made possible through external funding support, have commenced in Sault Ste. Marie and Brampton. The Algoma University Students’ Union (AUSU) has undertaken a $1.7 M renovation to the SpeakEasy and cafeteria space as part of Algoma’s overall strategy of improving student spaces as outlined in the 2020 Campus Master Plan – Shingwauk Site, Sault Ste. Marie. It is anticipated that this project will be completed by the time students are fully able to return to on-campus studies.
Earlier in the week, a $1.98 M investment for the expansion of the School of Computer Science and Technology (SCST) was announced by FedNor. The funding supports efforts by the SCST to increase programming and research opportunities for students, faculty and industry partners. The upgraded SCST lab will include two innovation and collaboration zones designed to ensure creativity, project innovation, product development and idea incubation.
The Board of Governors also approved the delegation of the approval of $1.5 M in funding for additional campus improvements and deferred maintenance made possible through the Ministry and Colleges and Universities Facilities Renewal Program (FRP) to the President and Vice-Chancellor, as recommended by the Finance Committee. FRP funding, as announced by MPP Romano in late November, is intended to improve accessibility, enhance the overall academic and non-academic student experience, and decrease the carbon footprint of Algoma’s campus. Projects under consideration include upgrades to Shingwauk Hall and the Convergence Centre.
Expansion of Algoma’s Brampton campus, supported through $7.3 M in multi-year funding by the City of Brampton, also continues. Current work will transform the size and scope of Algoma’s campus in this growing community. Expansion efforts in Brampton support the School of Computer Science and Technology, School of Business and Economics as well as the development of the Centre for Social, Cultural and Economic Innovation.
“Although 2020 was a challenging year for us all, the updates provided to the Board this evening reinforce the progress being made as we move forward with a range of strategic initiatives which support our long-term goal of growing to 3000 students by 2023,” stated Board Chair Shelley Schell. “I applaud all members of the Algoma University community for their efforts to date in navigating the ongoing pandemic.”
The next meeting of the Algoma University Board of Governors is scheduled for March 31, 2021.