The media release announcing an initiative that would transform a university and community was issued on June 29, 1998.
"The Grand Valley Education Society, the City of Brantford and Wilfrid Laurier University today announced their intention to open a Laurier campus – tentatively called the Brant campus – in the fall of 1999," the media release said. "Education society chair Colleen Miller, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel, and Laurier president and vice-chancellor Robert G. Rosehart ended months of anticipation by announcing that their three organizations are now committed to this new partnership in community education. Formal agreements will be finalized in September 1998, with the inaugural classes scheduled to begin one year later."
Since the opening of Laurier's Brantford campus in 1999, the university has blossomed into a truly multi-campus, multi-community institution. As well as Waterloo and Brantford, Laurier today boasts locations in Kitchener, where the university opened the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work in 2006, and Toronto, providing the university a presence in the city's bustling financial district.
While Laurier's move to open a Brantford campus certainly changed the university, it also changed Brantford. Among the most evident changes is the rejuvenation of downtown Brantford, which has occurred in no small part thanks to Laurier's growing footprint in the city's core. The most recent example of that growing footprint is the soon-to-be-opened Laurier-YMCA athletics and recreation complex on Colborne Street. A less evident, but no less important, change is the fact that Laurier provided a place for Brantford-area residents to earn a university degree close to home.
Fast forward to April 18, 2018. Another media release announcing a transformational initiative is revealed.
"Wilfrid Laurier University welcomes today’s announcement by the Ontario government giving final approval and financial support to expand access to post-secondary education in the Town of Milton and surrounding region," the media release said. "The provincial commitment of $90 million will help Laurier establish an innovative academic centre of excellence in Milton. Laurier, in partnership with Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, is eager to bring academic programming to this fast-growing community on the west side of the Greater Toronto Area."
The announcement of Laurier's new Milton campus is cause for celebration and excitement. The new campus will focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, with plans underway to launch Laurier’s first engineering programs. Laurier’s first Milton students will begin studies in September 2019 at a temporary location until permanent facilities are constructed by 2022. The campus is expected to grow to 2,000 Laurier students within five to 10 years.
Just as Laurier helped transform Brantford, the university now has the exciting opportunity to have a transformational impact in Milton. And, just as in the case of Brantford, Milton residents will now have the option of pursuing a university education close to home.
Building a university campus from the ground up is certainly no easy task, but there is no doubt Laurier and its community of faculty, staff, alumni and students are up to the task. The university's impressive growth into a multi-campus, multi-community institution during the past two decades has certainly proven that.
Editor, Campus magazine