The Milton expansion announcement is an exciting new chapter in Wilfrid Laurier University’s history – a chapter that we have been carefully working on for a decade.
It was in 2008 that Laurier and the Town of Milton first agreed to pursue a mutual vision of a Milton Education Village. Since then, the vision has crystalized into a community-centric site that will offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programming in partnership with Conestoga College. These programs will meet a growing need for science and technology workers in the innovation corridor between Waterloo and Toronto and offer post-secondary opportunities in a currently under-serviced area.
Our Milton campus will be a learning site for future leaders. These students will not only gain technical skills and knowledge, but also have access to extraordinary experiential learning opportunities. With our integration of arts courses, these students will develop communications skills and intercultural understanding that will prepare them to work in a high-tech, globalized economy.
Furthering Laurier’s commitment to diversity, we will focus on attracting and retaining traditionally under-represented students. As a scientist, I am acutely aware of the barriers that women and other under-represented groups face in STEM. In building out our programming, we plan to address the structural barriers that impede groups from studying in these fields. We will consciously design and deliver programs to attract highly qualified women, Indigenous people and people from other traditionally under-represented groups.
This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate Laurier’s excellence in delivering multi-campus programming. To say I am eager to lead our university into this expansion is an understatement. At Laurier, we have a skilled team that is experienced in building a university site from the ground level. Our Brantford campus is a shining example of what we can achieve when we work with local governments and the community on shared goals.
In Brantford, we have built collaborative relationships with community partners, strengthening our university and the city itself. The completion of the 122,000-square-foot Laurier-YMCA recreation facility this summer, which will serve both students and residents in the area, is proof of the incredible impact we can have on our partner communities. We envision similar partnerships with the Town of Milton and bring our expertise and enthusiasm for such projects to the planning of the campus.
Through research and collaboration, a university should engage with the community around it. In this area, Laurier excels. In Milton, programs that engage the broader community will be part of Laurier’s presence, much like they are in Brantford, Kitchener and Waterloo.
A recent example of this is Associate Professor Manuel Riemer’s work with community partners in Waterloo Region to create Canada’s first financially replicable net-positive energy multi-tenant building. Reimer is the director of the Centre for Community Research and a researcher in the psychology of sustainability. He is working on the evolv1 project – a building that will produce 105 per cent of the energy it uses.
Riemer has built a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team that will design building-management practices and engage residents in sustainable practices that will ensure evolv1 meets its sustainability targets. These types of partnerships are a testament to how our university becomes a positive and trusted partner in community building.
In the process of planning our Milton site, we have cultivated a spirit of collaboration with the municipality and other local partners. As we begin to make this dream a reality, our alumni will play a pivotal role in how the campus takes shape. Laurier will need your expertise, guidance and support during the coming years. I look forward to hearing your input as we build upon the century-old legacy that began in Waterloo and continues in new partner communities.
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University