After years of attempting to reconcile their differences, Laurentian University and Georgian College have decided to go their separate ways.
As with any two entities that agree to call it quits, once Laurentian attempted to become its own stand-alone university in Barrie — and failed — they found they just didn’t have the will to kiss and make up.
“It’s disappointing. I feel like maybe we could have had more notice. I’m just really surprised,” said Connor MacPherson, a 23-year-old psychology student studying at Laurentian. With an apartment, friends and family in Barrie, MacPherson said Friday’s news that her university would be closing up shop in Barrie before her post-secondary education was complete came as an unwelcome shock.
“I’ll probably go to Toronto, I don’t know, I haven’t decided what to do,” she said.
MacPherson is one of almost 700 Laurentian University students who just heard the announcement that Laurentian is pulling up its 15-year roots in Barrie and returning to its Sudbury base after a deal with the province fell through.
Dominic Giroux, president and vice-chancellor, said the university’s board of governors was informed by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities in January that to be eligible for enrollment funding, it would need to agree to several parameters.
Giroux said it comes down to the province wanting Laurentian to maintain its small footprint of 10,000 square-feet, not the 37,000 square-feet it hoped for, as well as insisting Laurentian allow Georgian College to teach its first two years of arts programming.
Giroux said Georgian has shown it doesn’t want to support four-year university programs in Barrie. However, it is supportive of college degrees or of university partnerships – called two-plus-twos – where the first two years are taught by the college and the next two by the university, he said.
“We respect their position, that’s their prerogative as a college. But this difference of vision is difficult to reconcile,” Giroux.
Giroux detailed how the ministry put a halt on the new development of satellite campuses in 2009, shortly after Lakehead University opened its doors in Orillia.
In 2010, Barrie city officials joined with Laurentian in an attempt to persuade the ministry to establish a university campus here, but in 2011, the ministry stated they were imposing a moratorium on new programs here until decisions about satellite campuses were answered.
Last year, the province gave the nod to Markham to build a satellite campus.
In addition to partnerships with Laurentian, Georgian College hosts the University Partnership Centre with Lakehead University, Central Michigan, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa.
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