Laurentian faculty concerned by closure of Barrie campus

OCUFA.on.ca – Comment
February 16, 2016

On February 12, 2016, Laurentian University announced it was closing its campus in Barrie (see attached), part of the University Partnership Centre at Georgian College. The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) released this statement on the closure:

The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) is concerned by the decision to close the Barrie campus and its impact on faculty members and students in Simcoe County.

“Our members are dedicated and make important contributions to their community. We greatly value the dedication and professionalism of all of our faculty colleagues at Barrie, and the importance of the programs they provide to students,” said LUFA President James Ketchen.

The Board of Governors of Laurentian University announced today the closure of the Barrie campus. This decision was based on a report produced for the Ontario Government and will affect more than 70 members of LUFA in that area.

“It is unfortunate that the plan the Ontario Government was seeking to impose for the future of higher education in Simcoe County has led to this announcement by the administration of Laurentian University,” he added. “That plan would have seen unprecedented government interference into the university sector. Universities must have the freedom to determine and decide about the best options for program choice and how these should be delivered.”

“The approach of this government over the last 10 years has been a real fiasco but LUFA is fully committed to upholding the rights and protecting the interests of our members at the Barrie campus.” Ketchen said.

Laurentian had previously applied to have a standalone campus in Barrie under the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) Major Capital Expansion policy framework. Their application was not approved.

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____________________________

Announcement:
February 12, 2016

Dear Laurentian students, faculty and staff,

After exploring many options, and carefully considering the best interests of our students, Laurentian University has decided to wind down its operations in Barrie. The University Board of Governors today voted to begin the process, with a complete exit from Barrie planned for May 2019. Laurentian becomes the fifth university in recent years to stop delivering programs in the Georgian College – University Partnership Centre.

Laurentian in Barrie will not admit first-year students for fall 2016. Arts and Management programs in Barrie will no longer be resourced as of May 2017. Social Work programs in Barrie will no longer be resourced as of May 2019. Laurentian will completely exit Barrie by May 2019. Every student currently enrolled at Laurentian in Barrie will have the opportunity to complete a Laurentian University degree and to graduate as planned.

Having delivered programs in Barrie for 15 years, the University did not reach this decision lightly.

The 23 full-time faculty and 11 full-time staff in Barrie will be covered by the provisions of their respective collective agreements and university policies. All full-time faculty will be offered a position in Sudbury.

Together, we have worked hard to give Barrie the university campus it deserves and although we still believe in this vision, various decisions by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities have made it impossible for Laurentian University to continue in Barrie in a fiscally sustainable way.

In May 2015, the Ministry denied Laurentian and the City of Barrie the opportunity to expand post-secondary options to include a significant number of new cutting-edge programs. These programs were developed in close consultation with numerous stakeholders in Barrie and had strong community support. After this proposal was not accepted, the Ministry then invited Laurentian in July 2015 to take part in a facilitation process with the other postsecondary institutions in Simcoe County.

We participated in this process in good faith. Like any other university, we expected to maintain academic control of the programs we teach and the degrees we grant, and to have adequate space to deliver them.

However, the Ministry had a different vision for the educational needs of Barrie. It insisted that Georgian College teach the first two years of our arts degrees, while Laurentian faculty would teach years 3 and 4. Furthermore, we were told we would have to accept space that falls far short of our students’ needs. These two factors, unfortunately, have rendered Laurentian in Barrie non-viable.

We thank faculty, staff and in particular students who have been at the heart of our presence in Barrie. They have worked very hard to build Laurentian in Barrie and we all share in this disappointment.

Of Laurentian’s 696 students in Barrie, the 186 students currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work program will be able to complete their degree in Barrie by April 2019. The 291 students currently enrolled in third and fourth years of the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Commerce programs will be able to complete their four-year degree in Barrie by April 2017. The remaining 219 students will be presented with a range of personalized options, including completing their degree in Sudbury with financial support or on-line, completing a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree in Barrie, having a Letter of Permission to take courses in another university to meet degree requirements, or transferring to another university.

Laurentian’s office on Georgian College’s campus will be opened and fully staffed Saturday, February 13th, from 9 am until 3 pm, for students who wish to discuss personalized options for degree completion. Students may also visit Laurentian’s office on Georgian College’s campus any time from Tuesday, February 16th to Friday, February 19th, from 8:30 am until 7 pm. Students are advised to check their Laurentian email account or visit for further information. For additional questions, students can call 1-855-675-1151 ext. 3469 or email LUBarrie@laurentian.ca.

Faculty in Barrie are invited to attend an information session on Tuesday, February 16th from 10am-11am. A staff information session will follow from 11am until 12pm. Both sessions will be held at 130 Bell Farm Road.

An information session will be scheduled for students in Barrie on Tuesday evening. Please check your student portal for information on time and location.

Going forward, we will focus all our efforts on the thriving Sudbury campus, and many of the new programs we had planned for Barrie, including Criminology and IT Security, will be introduced in Sudbury.

Laurentian’s enrolment in Sudbury has grown by more than 900 students since 2008 while increasing the average entry grade from 79% to 82%, despite challenging demographics in Northeastern Ontario, government cutbacks to teacher education and increased competition. We have the best post-graduation employment rates among Ontario universities. Our national Tri-Council research funding is up 22% since 2008-2009 while it was stagnant nationally. Laurentian ranks #1 in Canada in NSERC funding in Economic Geology, #1 in Canada in NSERC funding in Applied Geophysics, #1 in Canada in SSHRC funding in Social Policy, Planning and Social Prevention and #1 in Ontario in NSERC funding in Mining and Mineral Processing. We are completing in 2016 over $100 million of capital investments in Sudbury, including a new downtown School of Architecture, modernized classrooms and labs, a new Executive Learning Centre, a new Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre, a new University Club, new one-stop student services and a new Metabolic and Cardiovascular Research Lab. We have balanced our budget for five consecutive years and in 2013 completed the largest fundraising campaign in the history of Northern Ontario, raising over $65 million.

Together, we will continue to achieve great outcomes for our students and the communities we serve.

Sincerely,

Dominic Giroux
President and Vice-Chancellor

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