Twenty years ago, Wilfrid Laurier University and the City of Brantford embarked on an experiment to see if a concentration of talent, new ideas and a dedicated partnership between a university and a local government could guard against the effects of decades of urban flight, industrial contraction and economic instability.
Today, I am proud to be present to see the results of that experiment, a vibrant community of higher learning that continues to exceed the lofty expectations set by our Board of Governors and Senate when they launched Laurier’s Brantford campus in 1999.
In many ways, Laurier and Brantford are natural partners. We are both smaller communities with a deep history and the ability to constantly punch above our weight class to make significant contributions.
Laurier’s Brantford campus is home to some of the university’s most thought-provoking and cutting-edge programs that allow our faculty, staff and students to explore the future of work across a number of evolving areas: user experience design, technology management, social work, criminology and justice, journalism and game design and development, to name just a few.
While the past 20 years saw the refurbishment of buildings, the teaching of lessons and conferring of degrees, something even more significant was created – a true partnership between Brantford and Laurier built on a foundation of mutual respect and a common understanding that universities can be, and are, significant economic and social drivers on both the local and national stage.
The new Laurier Brantford YMCA has proven to be a tremendous success, but we refuse to rest on our laurels. Plans are coming together to transform and re-imagine Laurier’s One Market building, formerly Market Square, purchased from the City of Brantford in 2014.
This important building will house our new learning commons, classrooms, community spaces and be integral to helping us reach future enrolment goals.
This edition of Campus highlights the many ways in which Laurier is committed to creating and expanding opportunities for collaboration with all of its host communities by taking the lessons learned from 20 years of partnership with the Telephone City.
The exciting One Market initiative will move forward alongside another significant change to Laurier’s physical space in Waterloo: the transformation of the Faculty of Music. The Making Space for Music campaign officially launched last spring and I encourage you to read more about our ambitious plans to re-design the Faculty of Music’s home.
The Faculty of Music expansion will provide us with the opportunity to host more community-focused events and enrich both our students and the public through the benefits of music education and performance.
Community engagement can only happen when people are brought together. While Laurier has traditionally sought to make these connections in physical spaces, the advent of social media has removed the obstacle of geography, allowing us to connect globally.
An example of just how much impact one person can have on an international digital platform is highlighted in this edition’s piece on Soheil Jamshidi (BSc ’15), who is the voice of the Toronto Raptors on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and recounts his experiences during their incredible rise to become NBA Champions. Read the interview with Soheil to see a real-world example of how Laurier students make use of enduring skills to pivot into completely different careers than they originally thought they’d have.
Connecting with alumni is always a highlight of my work and I understand that we can’t always be in the same place. I have recently expanded my online presence to include Twitter and encourage you to connect with me via @LaurierPres. I will also continue to share important news and updates at www.wlu.ca/president.
I look forward to sharing stories about how Laurier continues to impact the world through the great work of our alumni community – stay tuned.
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University